Eagles on the winner’s list

Tyson Barry snagged four on Saturday. 357900 Picture: ROB CAREW.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Southern Football Netball League (SFNL) Division 1 side Cranbourne has got its first win of 2024, beating Mordialloc 15.11 101 to 1.2 8 at Ben Kavanagh Reserve.

The Eagles put the game away in the first quarter and kept coming hard, crossing the 100-point mark for the first time this season and conceding only a behind after the first break.

After a tough first month that has contained an excellent period against reigning premiers Cheltenham, and good fightbacks against Port Melbourne and Dingley, the Eagles finally have something to show for their hard work.

After the league-wide by this week as an SFNL interleague side takes on Riddell District, Cranbourne face East Brighton, Bentleigh and Chelsea Heights, which all present as more winnable contests than what they faced in the first month.

“We’ve been playing okay in patches, we’ve just been consistent in our inconsistencies and we’ve had players out at selection – but every game we’ve had good patches,” said coach Steve O’Brien.

“There has been signs of (our best) all year, last week against Dingley we came with a bit of a rush in the last quarter and we were just able to carry that momentum through.”

“We’ve shown signs that our best still holds up against our best so if we can get more consistent with that, then we can challenge the very best.

“We still believe we can be one of the top sides.”

Having averaged 55 points across the first month of the season as they look to find the right mix in the forward half, Cranbourne’s 15 goals – including four to creative small Tyson Barry – on Saturday underscored the increasing continuity.

“I think it’s showing some really good signs and we’ve had a lot of different players go through the front half – those guys are starting to learn each other’s patterns and the patterns we want to run so there was some good signs of that and kicking 15 goals on the weekend was good vindication of that,” O’Brien said.

Amid the early season inconsistency have been a series of green shoots.

Younger players have been afforded increased responsibility, including through the middle at times, with Tyler Finn one who has shown plenty of promise in his first season of senior footy, providing energy and regularly involved in transition play.

“For his first year of senior footy, he’s doing really well,” O’Brien said.

“Even in his quieter games, he’s still getting his hands on the footy a fair bit which is the most pleasing part so he’s giving himself an opportunity.

“He’s still learning but is tracking along really well.”

The inclusions of long-time reserves player Paul Delaroche and returning youngster Mitch Tharle in the senior team have been other heartening stories so far.

“Paul Delaroche has been waiting for an opportunity for a number of years so for him to come in and try and cement a spot has been really good for him and he’s working really hard and trying to play a couple of different roles,” O’Brien said.

“Mitch has been on the long road back from injury and he’s still gaining confidence – each week he’s getting more confidence and as he’s gaining confidence, we’re seeing him do things he used to be able to do.”