Whittlesea’s Riley Dyson struggles to break free of a tackle laid by his West Preston-Lakeside opponent during Saturday’s loss. ​

Whittlesea captain Xavier Dimasi has labelled Saturday’s clash with Macleod a must-win if the team is to remain in the Northern Football Netball League’s top division.

The Eagles have had a tumultuous season, winning early games against West Preston-Lakeside and Macleod before the surprise sacking of coach Blair Harvey.

The Eagles notched a memorable three-point win against Northcote Park after Harvey’s departure but have followed it with three straight losses, including an 11.7 (73) to 15.6 (96) defeat at home by West Preston-Lakeside on Saturday.

Dimasi said it was a disappointing game to lose after beating the Roosters in round two.

“Off the back of playing a good half of footy the week prior against Bundoora in the second half, we thought we’d really start to get our game plan running,” he said.

“We did that, but unfortunately we couldn’t put it on the scoreboard early. I think we had more scoring shots than them for a good part of the first half and had all the play, but couldn’t put scoreboard pressure on them.

“If you had rocked up and watched the game without a scoreboard, you’d think we were up by quite some margin.”

The Roosters’ efficiency in attack brought the Eagles undone, eight goals to six despite being outplayed in the first half.

Dimasi said despite the loss there were positive signs for the Eagles.

“Mitch Andrews was unbelievable and Sam Indian has grown massively. He’s had a super month of football,” Dimasi said.

“Keidan Treacy has only come in in the last month but he’s been absolutely awesome for us. He’s getting some confidence after playing four games in a row now, so we’re rapt with him.”

In the wake of Harvey’s departure several players requested clearances from the club, including high-profile recruit Jarrad Waite and VFL-listed pair Zach Molloy and Cam Wild.

While the trio represents plenty of talent, Dimasi pointed out that they had only played a cumulative total of seven games for the Eagles this season through a combination of injury, suspension and VFL commitments.

He said the core of the senior team was largely intact and eager to continue improving throughout the season.

“We’re all still committed. [Saturday was] the freest we’ve played for a while. We were playing such a good, free-flowing brand of footy,” he said.

Dimasi said the Eagles viewed Saturday’s clash against Macleod as do-or-die.

“They’re in the crosshairs this week. It’s a must-win game for us if we’re going to be a division one club. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

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