By Matt Fotia
Yarra Junction key defender Dylan Brookes is brimming with excitement at the prospect of another premiership for his beloved Eagles, after he helped his side scrap past Powelltown on Saturday at Monbulk.
The Eagles ended up winning by just three points over their local rivals, 10.9(69) to 10.6(66), after they kicked the only goal of the fourth quarter, coming through Michael Houston in the opening minute of the final term.
Brookes and his fellow defenders then fought tooth and nail to keep Powelltown at bay, allowing the Demons to score just one behind in the final quarter.
Speaking after the game on OETV and Yarra Valley FM 99.1, Brookes couldn’t hide his emotions.
“I guess you couldn’t have asked for a better game, it was unreal,”
“At no point was anyone comfortable, it was neck and neck the whole time, I was just waiting for the siren to go.”
Despite being strong favourites to make their second consecutive Grand Final, Brookes said he and his fellow Yarra Junction players never under estimated the in form Towners, who had won six games in a row coming into the do or die Preliminary Final.
“It was all about momentum, we knew they had a lot of momentum coming in, their last month and a half has been unreal,”
“We were very cautious of them and at no point did we think we were just going to run over the top of them, it was always going to be a tough slog throughout the day.”
Brookes played out of his skin for the second week running on a more experienced opponent, but once again conceded a pair of goals. Last weekend it was Josh Fraser of Seville, this time around it was James Rohan of Powelltown, who booted two crucial goals and set one up, despite having a disposal count in the single digits.
“With blokes like that (Fraser and Rohan), with that kind of experience, they only need five to six kicks and they can set up or kick three or four goals, so it’s very difficult, you can’t give them an inch.”
Brookes anticipates a more team orientated defence from the Eagles this weekend, as they look to combat not only the ex-AFL stars in Fraser and Nathan O’Keefe – who kicked six in the Second Semi Final – but also the likes of Josh Neal, Dylan Broadway and Cory Glass.
“We could be a little smarter, with who is playing on who, with people getting tired around the stoppages,”
“We should’ve noticed Luke (Spaulding) getting tired and we should’ve chopped him out,”
“He (O’Keefe) probably would’ve done the same thing to me though, he’s the best player in the league, he could slot into any side around.”
Brookes was part of the victorious 2018 Eagles side and was elated that he has another chance to live the week leading in to the big day, but knows coach John Holmes will keep his sides feet on the ground.
“From now until Thursday night it’s unreal,”
“The Thursday night before the game is the best training you ever experience, I can’t tell you how good it’s going to be this week,”
“But Holmesy is a very experienced guy when it comes to this kind of stuff and he’s just stressing that we keep it consistent, keep it the same as what we always do, what it’s been all year.”