Photo courtesy of Eve Johnson.
A complete performance from the Oakleigh Chargers has seen them take out their second TAC Cup in three years against a gallant Calder Cannons, winning by 47 points, 17.15 (117) to 11.4 (70).
With the roof closed at Etihad Stadium, some of the best under 18 talent on show took to the ground for the final game of the year on Saturday morning.
Both teams came into the game full of confidence after comprehensive victories against their preliminary final opponents, with a 53-point victory to Calder over Dandenong and a 74-point win to Oakleigh over Sandringham last week.
Calder Cannons were rocked by the late omissions of star forward and top five pick Peter Wright, and dynamic midfielder/forward Damien Cavka before the first bounce of the game.
The much anticipated final stanza between two teams who finished at the top of the table at the end of the season started with a bang, with Oakleigh nailing their first goal of the game within moments of the opening bounce through Lachlan Waddell.
Despite Calder dominating the clearances early, Oakleigh were able to gain possession, rebound and generate repeated forward 50 entries to put Calder under the pump early on in the game.
Joshua Halsall was lively in the first quarter, taking two shots on goal as he converted Oakleigh’s second, then ran hard defensively to give the Oakleigh defence a chop out.
But the tide began to turn midway through the first term with Oakleigh unable to make the post of their opportunities. Leading TAC Cup 2014 goalkicker Jayden Foster nailed two majors, whilst a brilliant Hisham Kerbatieh tackle saw him convert one of Calder’s five goals for the term to take a 17-point lead into the first break.
The second term however proved to be the key quarter of the match as Oakleigh came out firing, nailing seven goals to Calder’s one to take control of the game.
Liam Kinsella was in the thick of it up forward as the momentum swung back in Calder’s favour, contributing to three goal assists in the second term with Toby McLean on the end of one, and Mackenzie Rivett on the end of another to give Oakleigh back the lead.
Oakleigh continued to surge, with Marc Pittonet beginning to get on top of his ruck dual with Mark Kovacevic and producing some quality ruckwork which saw him palm the ball off to the advantage of a rampaging midfield brigade of McLean, Rivett, Jack Sinclair and Daniel McKenzie.
Rourke Smith and Ben Allan fought gallantly to stem the flow for Calder, with a brilliant piece of roving off a contest at half forward that saw Allan find Hisham Kerbatieh 30 metres out from goal to hit back to Oakleigh’s onslaught.
But when Jordan De Goey slotted his second for the quarter and Dan Houston out positioned the gallant James Latham in defence to slam home a 50 metre goal on the siren, Oakleigh had all the ascendency going in with a 19-point lead at the main break.
The first goal after the half time break went the way of Calder, with Miller intercepting a ball from the Oakleigh kick in to bring his team back within 13 points.
But that’s as close as Calder got for the rest of the game, as Oakleigh consolidated their lead with their ability to get more numbers to the contests allowing them to continue to dominate possession and forward 50 entries.
Darcy Moore who had looked dangerous all day finally got his opportunity to hit the scoreboard, converting two goals which included an amazing high flying contested grab that saw him athletically outleap the Calder defence.
The pressure applied by Oakleigh proved just too much for Calder to handle, as Oakleigh relentlessly kept up toe to toe with their opposition and refused to give them any space to create opportunities and link up as Calder had successfully done all season.
Paul Ahern was one of few who was able to cope with the heat of the contest generated by Oakleigh, using his skill and awareness to link up with some outside runners, but Calder needed more of it.
Going into the final quarter six goals behind, Calder coach Andrew Jago sent Touk Miller forward to generate some forward potency. It proved to be a great move, as Miller’s ability to lose his opponent at ground level generated two early final term goals to give Calder a glimmer of hope.
When Ahern brilliantly shrugged an Alexander Urban tackle and unloaded a long bomb from outside 50, the Cannons had their tails up.
But McLean continued to cause headaches for Calder, as he and Sinclair provided opportunities on goal to Kinsella and Dan Houston. Houston nailed two impressive goals from tight angles, which shut out Calder and guided Oakleigh home to seal the 2014 TAC Premiership, winning my a solid 47 points at the final siren.
Toby McLean capped off an amazing performance, being awarded with the best on ground in his team’s grand final win.
Oakleigh Chargers 2.2 9.5 13.10 17.15 (117)
Calder Cannons 5.1 6.4 8.4 11.4 (70)
Oakleigh Chargers: De Goey 3, Houston 3, Rivett 2, Waddell 2, McLean 2, Moore 2, Halsall, Jackson, Kinsella.
Calder Cannons: Miller 3, Kerbatieh 2, Foster 2, Smith, Goodyear, O’Kearney, Ahern.
Oakleigh Chargers: McLean, Kinsella, Pittonet, De Goey, Rivett
Calder Cannons: Ahern, Latham, Smith, Miller, Kerbatieh
5 – Toby McLean
4 – Liam Kinsella
3 – Marc Pittonet
2 – Paul Ahern
1 – Jordan De Goey