Cranbourne Gold has kicked off the 2018 SEJ Finals Series in spectacular fashion with a classy come-from-behind victory over Hampton Park in the first semi-final at the Clyde Recreation Reserve.
After kicking against the breeze in the opening term, the Eagles trailed for most of the match before kicking five goals in a brilliant last quarter display.
Eagles coach Tom Diaz was thrilled with his sides ability to hang tough when things weren’t going their way.
“I’m super proud of the whole team, the boys and girls did everything I asked today and they’re just a great bunch of kids,” Diaz said from the changerooms after the match.
He then reflected on what the team looked like at the start of the year.
“When I look back to the start of the season, it looked like we would only have 13 or 14 players but now we have 21 and they’re all playing for each other…what more can a coach ask for,” he said, before explaining his tactics of kicking against the wind in the opening term.
“We kicked against the wind in the first quarter because I knew the team had some run in the legs and we would finish strong in the last quarter.
“They all love to run and kick goals and that’s what happened in the final quarter. We held them up in the third quarter and I saw of knew at that stage that we were going to be hard to beat.
“I have to also give credit to the under 10s in our side who made a big difference today and throughout the season.”
Showing great sportsmanship, Diaz saved his highest praise for Hampton Park number 22 Michael Galway.
“For a little kid he reads the ball well, he gets the ball out of the pack and he runs,” Diaz said.
“It doesn’t matter who they play for, when you see kids play footy like that it’s very exciting. Hampton Park should be very proud of their season and they were terrific opposition today.”
It was a great team effort from Cranbourne, who had Andrew Russell and Troy Brown lead the way in their last-quarter revival.
Unfortunately, the season ends for the Redbacks while the Eagles will now go on to play the loser of next week’s second semi-final between Noble Park and Narre Warren.