From nothing emerges a chance for glory for young Eagles

North Warrnambool Eagles under 16 players (from left) Zac Bussell, 16, Tom James, 15, Jye O’Brien, 15, Sam James, 15, and Zac Urquhart, 16, warm up for the grand final on Sunday against Cobden.

North Warrnambool Eagles under 16 players (from left) Zac Bussell, 16, Tom James, 15, Jye O’Brien, 15, Sam James, 15, and Zac Urquhart, 16, warm up for the grand final on Sunday against Cobden.

TWO years ago North Warrnambool Eagles didn’t have an under 16 team. Now the side is aiming for premier and champion status.

The grand final against Cobden at Gardens Oval, Port Fairy on Sunday will mark a swift rise for the Bushfield-based junior team.

Eagles coach Glen Scriven credited hard work behind the scenes for the transformation.

“Two years ago we didn’t have a side whatsoever,” he said. “At the start of last year we made a real focus on trying to change that, to make the football club more attractive for boys to come here.

“We have a good committee. I think there are 12 new boys at our club in this team who have come the past two years.

“It’s been a lot of hard work but if you work and put the effort in you can turn it around very quickly.”

The Eagles emerged from the home-and-away season as the under 16 competition’s powerhouse.

Offensively and defensively they soared, averaging a healthy 129 points a game for and conceded a paltry 18 points a game against.

They had five of the top 10 goalkickers, including grade leader Joe McKinnon who kicked 60 majors in the home-and-away season.

Scriven said the Eagles’ evenness, emphasised by their goalkicking spread, was the catalyst for their strong form.

“We don’t rely on one or two,” he said. “We tend to have high numbers through the midfield, lots of rotations.

“We are very structured and it’s a quality group.

“I am very lucky to be involved to be honest.”

Scriven said the Eagles were a “reasonably tall side” but that their strength was their ability to adhere to structures.

“We have half-a-dozen boys who are six foot tall but we’re also a very skilful group,” he said. “We spread well, kick the ball well and they are set up to follow team roles.”

Cobden coach Marty Darcy said the Bombers, who recorded a come-from-behind win against South Warrnambool in the preliminary final, were ready for the challenge.

The Eagles scored a 95-point win in their semi-final clash two weeks ago.

“We are well and truly underdogs and North Warrnambool (Eagles) are overwhelming favourites,” Darcy said.

“We’ll go out there and leave nothing in the tank.”

Darcy, who was thrilled with the Bombers’ commitment in each of their three finals, said Cobden would use its strong contested work to get an edge.

“Obviously Josh Hickey won the league best and fairest and Charlie Darcy was runner-up and after that we are very even,” he said.

In the 16 and under netball grand final, Warrnambool meets South Warrnambool.

The Blues went into the final series undefeated but suffered a four-goal loss to the Roosters in the second semi-final.

But they notched a 20-goal win against Cobden in the qualifying final to book a grand final spot and a chance at redemption against the Roosters. 

justine.mc@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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