Story thanks to Tim Michell from The Leader
Image: Jason Sammon
Missed opportunities came back to haunt an inexperienced Northern Knights side as they opened the TAC Cup season with a 45-point loss to Sandringham Dragons on Saturday.
The Knights could have been closer than their 15-point halftime deficit, a margin which allowed Sandringham to control proceedings in the second half in sodden conditions.
Northern could not have dreamt of a better start as Patrik Della Rocca goaled after nine seconds to give it an early lead.
The Dragons answered through Andrew Courtney midway through the first term and led from then on, booting clear in the last quarter after opening a 26-point buffer at the final change.
“We really thought we were in the game,” Knights coach Justin Wenke said.
“We were just a bit unlucky in that second quarter. We hit the post and then got one touched on the line.
“It was probably just the difference in those conditions.”
The final score was 9.18 (72) to 3.9 (27) as a Northern Knights team which blooded 13 debutants was dealt several lessons by last year’s runner-up at Frankston Oval.
“They are a pretty good team, Sandringham, we rate them highly,” Wenke said.
“When you don’t take your opportunities, you are behind the eight-ball.
“To our credit, we hung in there until the end but we probably weren’t good enough on the day.”
Knights captain Braedyn Gillard marked his first game in the role with a best-afield effort.
Wenke said Gillard “cracked in” and highlighted the Montmorency junior’s chasing and tackle pressure.
“He hunts in at the ball and he is quite courageous around the contest. He leads by example,” he said.
Key defender Joel Randall, who was called into the team at 7pm on Friday, also won praise for his performance, Wenke saying he” didn’t lose a one-on-one all day”.
The Knights next take on Western Jets on Saturday from 11am.
KNIGHTS 1.4 1.7 2.7 3.9(27)
DRAGONS 2.7 3.10 5.15 9.18(72)
Knights: Gillard, McKenzie, Randall, D’Intinosante, White, Hallebone
Dragons: Smith, Worrell, Denborough, Mahony, Richards, Seaton
Knights: Murphy, Della Rocca, Mayne
Dragons: B. King 2, J. Rendell 2, J. Denborough 2, A. Courtney, J. Worrell, W. Kennedy