Story thanks to Leader Local Footy’s Tim Michell
MISSING four of their prime movers through injuries, an undermanned Northern Knights succumbed by 19 points against Eastern Ranges on Saturday.
Captain Braedyn Gillard (broken elbow), ruckman Tom Hallebone (shoulder) and key forward Mark Baker (knee) were ruled out of the Round 8 clash, while Lachlan Potter was taken to hospital after sustaining concussion from a heavy hit during the first half.
“With those three going down we knew we were going to be up against it a little bit,” said assistant coach Adam Baldwin, who took charge for the fixture.
“Then we lost Lachie Potter in the second quarter … he had to go to hospital with concussion and an AC (joint) injury.
“They are four of our better performing players this year.”
The Knights were still within six points after a dour first half, but Eastern broke the game open with a five-goal third quarter.
The sides traded blows until the 19-minute mark when a goal from Lachlan Gawel sparked a run of five consecutive majors either side of three-quarter-time from Eastern.
There was no way back for Northern from 35 points down, despite finishing on a bright note by kicking the final three goals of the contest, which finished 10.8 (68) to 7.7 (49).
“In the second half we were committed to try and move the ball with a bit more pace, and I think in doing that our pressure slipped away a bit in the second half of that third quarter,” Baldwin said.
Sunny Brazier, who kicked three goals, Stefan Uzelac and Joel Randall were among their side’s best performers, but Baldwin felt Eastern’s midfield had been the difference.
“That was probably the main part of the ground where they were superior to us and in the third quarter in particular there was some big one-on-one moments where they came up trumps,” he said.
The Knights had four players named in the Vic Metro squad for the Under-18 National Championships, which start on Saturday, with Hallebone and Baker joined by midfielder Tom McKenzie and half-back flanker Ryan Gardner.
“It looks like Tom (Hallebone) will step up and take the ruck mantle and Tom McKenzie will play midfield and halfback,” Baldwin said.
“They will be two of their better performing players in Vic Metro we hope.”