Cranbourne banks important win

Tyson Barry has adapted well to an altered role. 298233 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS.

By Jonty Ralphsmith

It was the win Cranbourne needed.

The Eagles netted their most significant win of the 2024 season in the Southern Football Netball League on Saturday, defeating Springvale Districts 9.10 64 to 6.9 45.

A six goal to one first half set the game up for the Eagles, which was able to hold off a brief third quarter charge from the hosts.

Steve O’Brien’s side brought the heat from the first bounce with Springvale Districts having plenty of territory with a breeze advantage in the first quarter but unable to register a major.

The Eagles swarmed and gave the hosts no space to work in and split aerial battles.

“I thought our pressure was fantastic and it was a real focus point for us,” said O’Brien.

“Making sure our first quarters are good quarters – which hasn’t always been the case for us this year – was something we targeted, so it was good to see the boys knuckle down.

“We certainly think that’s the best (the pressure has) been for four quarters (this season).”

A big Michael Boland lunging tackle on Springvale Districts’ Mason Russell, who looked to have burst into open space, reflected the intensity which set the tone for Cranbourne.

It gave them space to move in when they got the footy in their forward half, with Tyson Barry continuing his strong form.

He got on the end of the first centre clearance of his game, showing off his elusiveness and took a contested mark later in the quarter and converted the set shot to give him early confidence which he played with for the rest of the day.

Cranbourne was the far better side in the first quarter despite leading by just 10 points at the first break and got their rewards in the second.

Jake Stephens won a hitout which Jarryd Barker ran onto without breaking stride, hitting a leading Barry inside 50.

The visitors were able to hem Springvale Districts in for a sustained period of the second quarter, with back-to-back stunners highlighting a dominant period of play.

Casey-listed Andrew Green feigned to set it up deep to a contest to open up the goal face, which allowed him to kick one from 60.

From the next centre clearance, co-skipper Zak Roscoe burst away and handballed to Matt Alister, who tapped over his head to Nick Darbyshire, with that goal kicked from 50.

While Springvale Districts responded quickly with their first goal of the game, they had just one until halftime, with Cranbourne holding on for a comfortable victory despite a third quarter flurry to the hosts.

“We knew they would come hard at some point so we just had to brace for that and we held up really well in the third quarter,” O’Brien said.

“Even though they closed the gap a little bit, we missed a few opportunities but we were able to finish the game off well.”

Defenders Jordan Bertrand and Green were among the best at Newcomen Road in the Eagles’ first victory over a top seven side this year – they drew with East Brighton.

Meanwhile, teenager Calvin Peris made his debut and showed some positive signs with his electric pace.

Having represented Northern Territory’s under-16s in the talent pathway system this season, he is seeking relocation to Melbourne and will be one to watch for the Eagles going forward.

“He moves really well and is a pretty exciting kid we think,” O’Brien said.

“He’s a very nice kid, really coachable and has some very good ability too.”

Despite the results not going their way, the 2023 grand finalists have genuinely challenged premiership contenders this year, with the victory moving them into the top five for the first time in 2024.

The result is significant given Cranbourne has top two sides St Paul’s McKinnon and Cheltenham awaiting them in the next two weeks.

“It was about time we took a scalp and to do that was really pleasing,” O’Brien said.

“We’ve been working hard for a while now so we’re putting some good form together and starting to play some really good footy.

“To build that confidence moving into those two games is going to be great for us.”