To win or not to win, that wasn’t a question last Saturday as the Whittlesea Eagles, fired up after defender Lachlan Brennan was knocked out, pulled off a comeback not far off extraordinary, to manage an all-important draw.
A number of heavy hits set the scene for the day as Eltham took advantage of some Eagle errors, kicking away to a small lead at quarter time.
Jeremy Page was a highlight for the Eagles taking control of the rucking duel as well as providing a much-needed focal point up forward.
Eltham were able to extend their lead in the second quarter as the Eagles continued to frustrate the Whittlesea coach with small errors resulting in scoring opportunities for the opposition.
Among the mistakes were glimpses of brilliance.
Janan Daniel brought his defensive game to the fore with two run down tackles in the Eagles forward line resulting in goals.
Another best-on-ground performance by Daniel has seen him become one of Whittlesea’s premier players and the Eagles would be breathing easier knowing that he has already signed on for 2013.
The second half brought with it some heavy hits, and 15 minutes into the final quarter with the Panthers leading by 21 points, Eagles defender Lachlan Brennan attempted to shepherd and was met with an alleged Eltham elbow that left him unconscious for over a minute.
As the ambulance made its way to the United Showgrounds, news came across that last-placed Lower Plenty had won, putting them only a game behind Whittlesea and leaving the Eagles dangerously close to relegation.
With 10 minutes to play and trailing by 21 points, Eltham kicked the first three points and then a tight struggle saw four showings of brilliance that brought the game back to life.
Lucas Hobbs, in a tight contest in the forward fifty was able to gather the ball at speed and then run away from his opponent to kick an open goal.
He then marked a Rocky Collins pass on the fifty-metre line and proceeded to slot it through from 55 metres.
Trailing by two goals with four minutes to go, Jack Carlyon playing his first senior game for the season got the ball tight on the boundary, under pressure, he managed to deftly checkside the footy through the middle putting the Eagles only a goal behind with minutes to play.
Desperate footy continued and as the boys rose for their hospitalized team-mate, Chris Horman, with only seconds on the clock, found himself 30-metres out when Brian Holmes roved off the pack, handballed to Horman and he was able to slot it through as the crowd erupted on the siren.
Coach Pete Bugden emphasized the fact that the boys’ lifted for Lachy Brennan and that is what the Whittlesea Football Club is about,
“Massive win for our club, the boys dug deep and showed huge guts to play well for Lachy. I’m rapt. “
The draw is as good as a win for the Eagles who now move six points clear of Lower Plenty with only three games left for the season.
Whittlesea 14.7.91 drew Eltham 13.13.91
Goal Kickers: L. Hobbs 4, N. Andrews 2, T. Behan , J. Carlyon , G. Bransgrove , N. Snowdon , B. Briffa , C. Horman , J. Daniel , J. Page
Best Players: J. Daniel, J. Page, C. Horman, L. Hobbs, B. Briffa, T. Behan
Another tough week of footy for the reserves and another week where positives could be found in the developing reserves.
A solid preparation ensured that the Eagles came out firing and limited Eltham to only three goals for the term.
Jack Dyson made his return from injury and was a welcome inclusion into the team, while Dylan Chatley, in his third game back after a two-year injury offset proved why he could become a genuine senior prospect.
The second quarter was a quarter that has been evident in the reserves in the past season as they allowed Eltham to kick away to a seven-goal lead at half time.
The third quarter was once again tough as Eltham managed to kick another five goals, while Whittlesea were able to add two of their own through some extended pressure in the forward line.
The final quarter was an indicator of how far the reserves have come as they outplayed Eltham adding three goals to their tally and had the majority of the play.
Despite going down by 73 points, Whittlesea look forward to their game against Heidelberg in two weeks where they have a big chance of winning their first game in division one.
Whittlesea 6.4.40 def by Eltham 17.11.113
Goal Kickers: L. Dyson 2, D. Martin , B. Morgan , L. Martin , A. Draper
Best Players: L. Dyson, B. Hobbs, H. Cardwell, A. White, J. Dyson, B. Morgan
By Nath Croughan
After an impressive win against West Preston the week before, the Whittlesea Under 19’s returned to the United Showgrounds for the first time in over a month to host a firing Eltham outfit on Saturday morning.
Greeted by sunshine and a ground that actually consisted of more grass than mud and water, the young men were eager to gain a win against a finals bound outfit and by the same token consolidate a position in the top 5 and the pending finals series.
Despite the late withdrawal of utility Tyler Eldrett with a foot injury and missing key players in Riley Dyson, Chris Morton and Jake Chatley with injury along with an additional four players representing the senior squad later in the day, the return of Josh Stroud from the first team loomed as a strong inclusion.
Looking to start well, the Eagles gained the ascendancy early and kicked two majors quickly, dominating in the stoppages and around the ground play, whilst Eltham took longer to find their feet and were unable to stem the tide with early inaccuracy.
Unfortunately for the home team, the momentum and positive start was hampered by the yellow carding of key big man Michael Brennan after a late bump and team mate Jake Barnes for remonstrating and Eltham were able to stop the bleeding and without converting, looked the stronger outfit in the later stages of the quarter.
Holding a lead at quarter time, Coach Jarrad Carey implored the young men to maintain their discipline and be first to the football and the early going of the quarter was an arm wrestle, Eltham loomed large with two early goals before Trent Groom responded with his third and when Brennan and Barnes returned, the Eagles forward structure was dominant, but neither team wrestled control from the other.
When Whittlesea seemed to be controlling the play they were cruelled by a season ending knee injury to ruckman Rhys Andrews, who had been in control of the stoppages and around the ground ruck work from the first bounce.
Entering half time, it was Whittlesea by the most slender of margins, a single point separating the teams. A decent spray at half time from Carey, senior coach Peter Bugden and support staff seemed to flick the switch and the Eagles put together their most dominant quarter of the season.
Groom ran riot up forward, the returning Stroud controlled the midfield and Pat Schott, Jacson Cecil, Jackson Lewis and Brett McDonald ensured little got through the defence.
If not for inaccuracy, Whittlesea would have iced the game in the premiership quarter, however bad kicking is bad football and they left the door ajar for the Panthers, who kicked the terms last, to take in a 16 point lead, Eltham kicking 2.2 from their 4 entries to the 50, whilst Whittlesea kicked 4.5 from their 17 entries.
With the mood positive at the last break, the boys were aware the job was only three quarters done, but their assertions failed to relate to effort.
Eltham completely dominated the final term, entering the forward 50 some 22 times and tore the Eagles midfield apart, kicking 6.3 in the final quarter, the first four without answer.
It took some 17 minutes into the final term before Whittlesea responded, bringing the game within a goal before Eltham kicked away again and ran out eventual winners by 9 points in a heartbreaking game for players, coaches and supporters alike.
Trent Groom was the major goal scorer kicking another bag of 6 and showcasing what he could achieve with a fitness base to start from and the returning Stroud racked up possessions at will, but few others can readily acknowledge a four quarter performance.
The coming three games are make or break and the need for three wins is paramount as a loss can eliminate finals action for the young men.
We venture to Macleod this week in a battle to regain our position in the five and a level of respect amongst our counterparts in the Club.
Whittlesea 9.9.63 def by Eltham 10.12.72
Goal Kickers: Trent Groom 6, Luke Fowles, Chris Menzies, Sam Pupillo
Best Players: Josh Stroud, Trent Groom, Chris Menzies, Luke Fowles, Jackson Lewis, Pat Schott