Winning does not always mean perfection, but Sandringham is on the board in 2022.
A ten-goal second half powered the Dragons to a 38-point victory after a frustrating and at times scrappy first half for the visitors at Highgate Recreation Reserve.
Calder had much of the territory early in the game and went into quarter time with a five point lead before Sandy flipped the script in the second quarter.
Jamie Hope converted a set shot straight after quarter time and the ball spent more time in Sandy's front half in the second stanza.
Will Ashcroft found plenty of the ball through the midfield highlighted by a clearance on the wing where he ran through multiple Cannons players and distributed which ultimately led to a Hugo Birks goal.
The skipper’s strong body and attributes offensively and defensively demonstrated the Dragons’ midfield potency if they can leverage off him throughout the year, his performance impressing midfield coach Scott Nish.
“Generally he was really clean below his knees and we know how strong he is so he influenced today,” Nish said.
“Beyond what he did with the ball, we as a group have to give it back to him more than we do because he was the spare a few times where we kicked rather than giving him the handpass.”
Sandy showed positive signs offensively but failed to capitalise, kicking 3.8 as the team’s relative inefficiency in attack led to several shots from long and difficult range
The Cannons entered forward 50 only six times for the quarter yet were still within 11 points at the main break.
“We’ve got to get better as a group at how to defend and how quickly to defend,” Nish said.
“There’s too much of a delay out there in decision making and anticipation so we’ll keep working on it for next week.”
A Hugo Hall-Kahan goal via a 50-metre penalty turbocharged a hot start to the third quarter, the Dragons kicking four unanswered goals and five for the quarter to ensure they would do enough to record victory.
The game opened up and the Dragons were able to get more run and gun into the game to showcase their talent and shake off a gallant Cannons outfit.
Max Ramsden put forward another excellent showing, impacting aerially around the ground and Charlie Clarke, Cam McKenzie and Lachie Benton each had individual moments of excellence through the midfield.
“It’s good to see the boys put into practice some of the things we’ve been working on and some of the rooms for improvement we saw come out of last week - there was more to be pleased about from this week," Nish said.
A Clarke snap, goal and superfluous celebration in the dying seconds capped the 14.14 98 to 8.7 55 victory as the Dragons turn their attention to Good Friday where they will take on GWS Academy at 11.15am at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
Turning it around after halftime
Whichever way you looked at the second stanza, it could have been far better for Sandringham.
The Dragons could not get flow and rhythm to their game to find easy avenues to goal.
Three goals from eleven shots was indicative of inefficiency in the forward half and some shots from difficult spots.
Going the other way, Calder scored 1.2 from their only four entries up until the 20 minute mark of the second quarter, having space and numbers on their intermittent forays forward.
To the casual observer the Dragons looked on top with much more territory - an eleven point halftime lead appeared to belie the visitors’ ascendancy.
But coach Wayne Cripps knew the inside 50 efficiency differential was unsustainable.
He implored the team to lift defensively at halftime so they could get back to playing the Sandy way.
The players responded, coming out after halftime with much more pace and liveliness.
Four goals from their first five entries in the second half was a much stronger output for the Dragons.
“Our forwards did a much better job of creating space to work in [after halftime],” Nish said.
“We were able to isolate blokes up forward, we emptied out when we had to and won the ball out the back in the foot race style of play we like.”
Not until the 17-minute mark of the third quarter when the game was just about sewn up did the Cannons score as they were not afforded the easy entries they got earlier in the game.
Archie Roberts excels
Archie Roberts led the disposals count in the opening round and got best on ground from the coaches this week with a strong showing off halfback.
Whenever Roberts was near the ball, it felt like something could happen.
He provided the outside midfield ascendancy that Sandy searched all game for with burst, speed and dare and more often than not it came off.
At one stage he had the ball in his grasp for about 25 metres and took three bounces before kicking inside 50 as he had fun and played with flare.
Some clean gathers at ground level and one-on-one wins in the air rounded off an excellent game for Roberts.
He has game sense and is playing with confidence to tuck it under his arm and show his strengths.
“He gives us that run off halfback – he’s super creative, runs and carries and he’s a good user of the footy as well,” Nish said.
You go, Hugo!
Underestimate Hugo Hall-Kahan at your own peril.
Harry Sheezel has attracted the media attention in the lead up to the 2022 season and probably gets the best defender each week.
But Hall-Kahan has shown early in the season that he can impact the scoreboard, scoring five goals on Saturday.
He kicked Sandy’s first goal with a snap from 30 and got on the end of two goals on transition and got one via a 50-metre penalty.
They may not have been difficult opportunities but Nish was pleased to see him finally get bang for his buck after four goals from ten shots across Sandy’s practice game and round one.
Improving his set shot accuracy could elevate him to another level, but the Haileyburian finds a way to score, giving him a strong platform for 2022.