By Tim Miller

After the TAC Cup Girls’ team made it two wins on the trot with a hard-fought win over Eastern Ranges, there was plenty of optimism about the boys team capping Friday night’s double-header with a win against the same opposition.

But the Ranges showed the form that has them well entrenched as the early favourites for this year’s TAC Cup, running out 54-point victors, 15.16 (106) to 7.10 (52).

While disappointed with the loss, coach Andrew Johnston was upbeat about the team’s prospects for the season to come.

“As I said to the boys, it’s Round 1, it’s a learning experience,” Johnston told Cannons Media.

An impressive 13 debutants lined up for the Cannons, perhaps most notable potential father-son duo Mason Fletcher and Rhylee West, and Johnston believed the experience would serve them well.

“They’ll get an understanding of the intensity and the work rate required,” Johnston said.

“Guys like your [Jack] Bytels and your [Tye] Brownings, they’ll take some experience out of that as well, and get an understanding of what’s required at this level.”

Midfielder-forward Curtis Taylor was impressive in his first game in Cannons colours, finishing with three goals and looking unfazed by the occasion, while Mitch Podhajski battled hard in a defence that was constantly under pressure.

“His work rate and his use of the ball were just super,” Johnston said of Taylor’s game.

“He played a good four-quarters game of football, he kept on running. His work rate was really pleasing to see.”

Fletcher, the son of Essendon 400-gamer Dustin, also drew high praise for an excellent first outing, and according to Johnston, the fruit hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

“He reads the play really well, just like his dad,” Johnston said.

“You can see the natural ability that he’s got. He was really impressive on the night.”

Johnston was full of praise for Ranges, who backed up their strong pre-season showing against the Cannons with another silky performance.

“Their pressure on us and their work rate was something we need to aspire to if we’re going to be competitive against those top sides,” Johnston said.

“But it also gets back to what we need to do and how we need to improve, so if that means to be cleaner, to use the ball better, then that’s what we need to work on.

“If we bring those standards to the game, then the result will look after itself.”

The Cannons have a chance to get their season up and running next Saturday at RAMS Arena against the Western Jets, who were narrowly defeated on Sunday by the Northern Knights.

“We know they’re going to give it a really hard contest,” Johnston said of the Jets.

“At the end of the day, we need to set the standards early and then respond from that.”

Saturday’s match is scheduled to begin at 10am.

GOALS: Taylor 3, Hanna 2, Evans, Firebrace.
BEST: Taylor, Fletcher, McNicol, Riccardi, Podhajski.


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