By Jackson Russell
Whittlesea is just inches away from the Northern Football Netball League division two minor premiership after getting the better of Banyule with a six-point win in a top of the table clash on Saturday.
The win is the Eagles’ seventh in a row and gives them a measure of revenge over the Bears, who handed the Eagles their last loss back in June.
Whittlesea is now level with Banyule, each with an 11-3 record, but the Bears have a 32 percentage point advantage.
It was a rugged, low-scoring affair in frigid conditions. Whittlesea kicked three of the first four goals to take an 11-point lead into quarter time.
The Bears responded in the second term by holding Whittlesea goalless to close the gap to six points at half-time.
As the rain fell, scoring did too. Just three behinds were kicked between the two sides as Banyule came to within five points at the last break.
The Eagles were able to hold on, kicking two goals of their own to match Banyule’s two goals in the final term.
Whittlesea coach Blair Harvey said the Eagles’ focus was to win and lock in a top-two spot and a double chance.
“Banyule is still the benchmark, the conditions favoured us a lot being pretty muddy and wet so their talls didn’t have much of an impact,” he said.
“The ground was completely underwater so it was a really tough day.
“Brody Bell at centre-half-back played really well, he did a good job on their talls. Nathan Stefanile rucked all day against three or four different ruckmen so it was a massive day for him.”
The Eagles host fourth-placed Thomastown this week in a must-win for both teams.
The Eagles have to win to have a chance to nab top spot while Thomastown needs to win to hold off Diamond Creek, who is just half a game behind in fifth.
Harvey said it was a massive game for both clubs.
“We want to lock in a double chance and they need to keep winning so both teams have plenty to play for,” he said.
“We got Saturday through unscathed, the boys are pretty fit now.
“I know Thomastown had the bye so they’ll be fresh, but the work we put in all year should put us in good stead.”
Banyule 4.7 (31) def by Whittlesea 5.7 (37)
Goals: J. Langford, M. Johnston, D. Camilleri, M. Lovell
Best: D. Kelly, T. Martin, J. Langford, B. Embleton , D. Camilleri, K. Yodgee
Goals: N. Stefanile, X. Dimasi, M. Langford, C. Bland, J. Murphy
Best: B. Bell, N. Stefanile, M. Coen, P. Higgins, M. Andrews, N. Andrews