TAC Cup: Drama as Cannons, Knights grab finals spots

CALDER Cannons secured a TAC Cup finals berth in the most dramatic
fashion possible as Peter Wright kicked the match-winning goal after
the siren against Geelong Falcons on Saturday.

Northern Knights are also finals bound after an 80-point thrashing
of the North Ballarat Rebels but is still in a tight race for a
top-four spot.

Wright hauled in a contested mark and then kicked from 50 metres
against the wind to spark wild celebrations as Calder upset the top team
8.10 (58) to 8.9 (57) at Kardinia Park.

The win means Calder (9-7) will play finals regardless of its
result against second-placed Eastern Ranges in the final home-and-away
round on Sunday.

So close is the ladder, the Cannons can still finish in the top four with a win and favourable results in other games.

“They refused to quit,” coach Andrew Jago said. “We were kicking
to the non-scoring end in the last and Geelong got about two goals up.

“It was the first four-quarter performance we’ve put together
. . . it wasn’t spectacular from either side, it was genuine pressure.”

The teams were rarely separated by more than 10 points, with
Calder eight up at three-quarter time before Geelong’s best passage of
the afternoon swept the Falcons to the lead.

“It’s nice to secure our spot, the boys were very aware of what
they’ve achieved,” Jago said. “The response was incredible, it was a
fairly large outpouring of emotion.”

At Eureka Stadium, Northern Knights ground to a 30-point lead at
the last change and then unleashed nine goals to one in the final term
of its 17.7 (109) to 4.5 (29) victory.

Marcus Bontempelli starred with five goals, while Josh Iacobaccio and Ben Lennon were other leading players.

The win guarantees Northern (9-1-6) will play finals and the
fifth-placed team can still climb as high as third should it win against
Murray Bushrangers this Saturday in Wangaratta and get favourable
results in other games.