The Whittlesea Football Club were overrun by West Preston last Saturday, going down by 19-points.
But it was the performances of some younger Eagles that is worth talking about.
Nathan Stefanile, who recently celebrated his eighteenth birthday, was able to keep retired AFL veteran Anthony Rocca goalless for the game, receiving best on honours for his performance.
Classy midfielder Nathan Andrews, 18, joins Stefanile as another teenager who has really stepped it up in the past month of senior footy and looks to belong in the top tier of NFL football following another mature display on Saturday.
The two boys are only a couple in a multitude of very promising footballers making their way through the Eagles ranks and coach Pete Bugden praised the boys for their game, as well as commenting on the list that is coming together at the Eagles.
“Hatty (Stefanile) was outstanding, Nath very good. I think we are building a good young list,” he said
Bugden also emphasised the fact that the club can’t rest on the fact that this young list is capable of quality football.
“I believe the old potential tag needs to be watched very closely. As we need to see improvement and we both know some have gone back. So it’s foot to the grindstone!”
In a muddy and hard-fought affair, Whittlesea were able to establish a lead early on and were able to capitalize on their good start going into half time with a seven-point lead.
Hard in-and-under football from skipper Garrett Heenan and Nick Snowden provided countless opportunities for the likes of Daniel, Briffa and Behan.
Rocky Collins once again found himself up forward and kicked two goals for the day with his forward pressure being a highlight of the day.
The conditions were almost unplayable and after halftime,it was difficult to see who played for who with both teams covered in a think layer of mud.
Basic mistakes by the Eagles allowed West Preston to work their way back into the game and a few contentious umpiring decisions resulting in West Preston goals left it all tied up going into the last term and the Whittlesea coach hoarse.
West Preston kicked the first goal of the final quarter.
A mid-quarter attack from the Eagles produced only one point, on the back of solid defensive work from West Preston and the Roosters were then able to kick the final two goals of the game in last three minutes to run out 19-point victors.
The Eagles sit eight points, plus percentage, ahead of last placed Lower Plenty who went down by five points against Northcote Park on the weekend.
Whittlesea will be looking to notch up a victory this week against Eltham to cement their spot in division one for 2013.
Whittlesea 6.6.42 def by West Preston 9.7.61
Goal Kickers: R. Collins 2, G. Heenan 2, N. Andrews , B. Briffa
Best Players: N. Stefanile, T. Behan, G. Heenan, J. Page, B. Holmes, C. Horman
Have a listen to what Pete Bugden had to say to the boys after the game against West Preston.
The Eagles reserves had another tough game and were unable to compete with the much stronger West Preston team.
Lacking depth, Whittlesea took the field knowing that it was going to be a tough day in the mud.
The Roosters were able to get away to a great start in the sloppy conditions kicking four goals in the first quarter and doubling that up in the second quarter to lead by 61-points at the main break.
James Robinson and Ben Morgan produced the few highlights in the reserves with Mick Camaniti also providing some good football in patches.
West Preston were able to kick away in the second half to record a comfortable 129-point victory.
One must acknowledge the same reserves players who continue to play each week despite the tough conditions they are forced to play in.
Whittlesea 2.3.15 Def by West Preston 20.24.144
Goal Kickers: L. Dyson , M. Farrant
Best Players: B. Morgan, J. Robinson, M. Perkins, L. Dyson, M. Camaniti, R. Barker
Another week, another set of testing conditions faced the Eagles, this time down at West Preston, where the surface resembled the nearby Edwards Lakes.
In what was a make or break game for the Whittlesea team, the atmosphere was intentionally relaxed and the boys thrived from the different approach and ‘shopped early’, kicking three pivotal goals in the first quarter which proved to be the catalyst for a fantastic four quarter performance.
Jack Carlyon continued his return to form and with his dominant display in the midfield and Trent Groom proving a handful for the West Preston defense, the Eagles took an early lead and held it for the game.
Given the ground condition and the drizzling rain that followed throughout the morning, the first quarter dominance proved pivotal.
As the condition of the ground deteriorated, Whittlesea not only maintained their advantage but also pushed on with the task.
Brett McDonald marshalled the defense with aplomb and captain Mitch Taplin played what was arguably his best game, nullifying the input of the dangerous Mitch Tobin of West Preston but continuing to win plenty of his own football.
Laurence Umali, second up after missing a month with a hamstring strain enjoyed the heavier conditions, running straight lines, collecting bodies and possessions at will, Ben Russell and Lee Hughes providing exceptional support.
Seeking a difference throughout the game, Tyler Eldrett moved from his traditional goal sneak role into a creative half back and provided plenty of run, whilst Rhys Andrews dominated the ruck with a tireless display.
Ultimately, the first quarter set the tone and the Whittlesea team doubled the margin over the following three quarters in a dominant display.
With fifth place regained, a massive challenge awaits when we return to Showgrounds Stadium for the first time in over a month and play host to the talent Panthers of Eltham.
In their last encounter, the young men mounted a massive last quarter rival to just fall short.
Coach Jarrad Carey will be hoping for a four-quarter effort on Saturday to ensure that the Eagles aren’t reliant upon another series of last quarter heroics to achieve an improbable result.
Whittlesea 7.10.52 Def. West Preston 1.7.13
Goal Kickers: T. Groom 3, J. Carlyon 2, B. Russell , L. McMurray
Best Players: M. Taplin, J. Carlyon, B. McDonald, L. Fowles, J. Cullen, J. Lewis