Called out over the past fortnight for complacent performances leading to a slight slide down the ladder, the East Coast Eagles strongly responded on home deck with a 3 goal win over the UTS Bats, 11.12.78 to 8.11.59 at Kanebridge Oval.
Approaching Round 7 after back-to-back losses, the Eagles were desperate to return to the winners circle, welcoming the returns of key players Karl Merson and Trent Stubbs.
However, losing captain Ben Bourke to a hamstring injury early in proceedings raised concerning fears that the Eagles would crumble without Bourke’s strong leadership.
This provided the ultimate opportunity for the entire side to step up and prove their doubters wrong, and so they did with a dominant second quarter kicking 5 goals to the Bats 1.
Dan Saywell was especially impressive in front of the sticks, kicking 2 goals, his first for a number of years.
The Eagles controlled the game and never overplayed their hand, returning to the smart and fast style of footy that blew teams off the park across the opening month.
A key feature of East Coast’s game on Saturday was a ruthless pressure off half-back, rebounding out of their defensive 50. Two players in particular, Thomas Zdrillic and Luke Mansour, played huge roles and have both been immense since returning to Premier Division, reinventing themselves in 2018 as underrated key players willing to run and tackle out of the backline, whilst getting plenty of the pill.
I’ve got to give a wrap to Mansour especially, after just 2 games as a new player to the club, battling through an obscure facial injury keeping him sidelined for early in the season, the lean but lethal utility has earnt his first grade spot and never looked back, becoming a significant player in Lindsay Scown’s side.
Look at Luke fly! I predict a mark of the year contender from Mansour in the coming weeks.
The weekends result, was a much needed step in the right direction for East Coast. It lifts the clubs spirit and gains momentum for this coming week and the local derby showdown with fierce rivals Pennant Hills.
Away from home, the Eagles have a humongous task on their hands against the defending Premiers. So much has been made of the local rivalry and distaste both teams have for each other. This rivalry is as personal as it is territorial and always makes for intense and exciting viewing.
The challenge is to continue the newfound form and extend a winning run, because no one wants to lose this game.
This writer cannot wait.
East Coast Eagles
Goal Kickers: J. Large 2, K. Merson 2, J. Vlatko 2, D. Saywell 2, Z. Johns 2, S. Turner
Best Players: K. Merson, B. Clark, L. Mansour, S. Turner, K. Emery, Z. Johns
Best Players: A. Tarrant, M. Foley , M. May, R. Kirkhope, P. O”Rourke, A. Johnson
|1||North Shore Bombers||7||7||0||0||803||357||224.93||28|
|3||Pennant Hills Demons||7||5||2||0||588||506||116.21||20|
|4||East Coast Eagles||7||4||3||0||542||397||136.52||16|
|5||UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs||7||4||3||0||530||426||124.41||16|
|6||Manly Warringah Wolves||7||3||4||0||484||517||93.62||12|
|9||St George Dragons||7||2||5||0||371||734||50.54||8|
|10||Western Suburbs Magpies||7||1||6||0||396||808||49.01||4|