By Matt Fotia
Cranbourne have fought their way through a tough couple of months and have come out the other side in control of their own destiny after a massive upset victory over ladder leaders Berwick on the weekend.
The Eagles lost a core group of players to injuries and holidays after their round six loss to the Wickers and suffered a poor spell which saw them grab just 14 points from a possible 28, with wins over Upwey-Tecoma and Healesville, the bye and a last gasp draw against Woori Yallock their only successes.
They slipped from finals lock to a possibility of missing out on the top five with Wandin gaining control after the Dogs knocked them off by three points in round 13. But along with Upwey-Tecoma’s upset victory, the weekends four point win sees the Eagles six points clear in fifth.
Coach Steve O’Brien is proud of his sides efforts in sloppy conditions on Saturday and through their tough eight week stretch.
“It’s a pretty important win for us, the boys were great, really strong,”
“In the wet last year they beat us so it’s one and one in the wet conditions during my time (at Cranbourne),”
“We’ve just been focusing on the upcoming game and doing everything we can to get the points (over the past seven weeks),”
“It’s obviously been pretty tough with so many players away and unavailable, but we just had to get through that tough period and now we’re starting to get some players back.”
Whilst the coach would’ve preferred his entire list be available all season, O’Brien can see the silver lining, with a number of younger Eagles being given the opportunity to debut at senior level.
“All the young kids that have played, we’ve had about eight or nine play their first game, they’ve all had a taste of it (senior football) and have performed pretty well and proved they’re more than capable of playing senior football long term.”
2019 has been a season of new discoveries for the Eagles, both due to necessity, with the mass unavailabilities through the middle of the season, and a forward shake up due to the loss of club legend Marc Holt to Karingal over the pre-season.
Cranbourne have had to change their approach inside forward fifty and when they’ve been at full strength O’Brien has happy with their execution, something they’ll have to maintain for the remainder of the season.
“We knew without the big fella down there (Holt) we have to change our methodology and try to share the load and when we’ve had everyone available, we’ve been able to do that,”
“The reality is that if we slip up again we won’t play finals,”
“So we can’t get comfortable and think we’ve done enough now, we’ve got to keep the same mindset as we’ve had over the past three weeks.”
Cranbourne host Narre Warren and Olinda Ferny Creek before finishing the season with a trip to Upwey-Tecoma.