Eynesbury Eagles is hoping to be a more competitive team in the second half of the Gisborne and District Cricket Association Johnstone Shield District Firsts.

The Eagles had a tough first half to the season on the scoreboard, without a win, but there were a lot of encouraging signs from the young playing group.

A number of players have recently returned to the club, which should strengthen the side for the rest of the year.

Eagles captain-coach Tristan Francis said the side they fielded on Saturday against Ashfield was the strongest they have had all year.

“We’ve had a few blokes come back to the club which has been good,” he said.

“A few older heads, which means we won’t be playing as many young kids who have been filling the void.

“Justin Siedlecki, who was one of the founding members and a club legend, played his first game back.

“Scott Lynch, Ben Tung and Mark Pino have all played in the past and have returned back to the club.”

Francis, who missed the past nine weeks with stress fractures, was also back on the field on Saturday for the Eagles’ second T20 match against Ashfield.

Ashfield made 7-158 from its overs and Francis said they batted well.

Brandon Shearson took two wickets for the Eagles, while young gun Josh Oldfield opened the bowling and bowled well.

Francis said a slow start with the bat had been costly.

“We lost a few early wickets and we didn’t have the momentum to get the runs,” he said.

“Trent Wemyss’ batting was the highlight. Craig Norris and Scott Oldfield batted well in the middle order.”

Francis said he hoped the more competitive performance on Saturday was a sign of things to come.

He said they would like to break through for their first win over the next two Saturdays against East Sunbury.

“I think we should be more competitive, but there’s still a long way to go.

“We’re not the side of last year, but we’ve got a little bit more maturity.”

While a few of the players who had been playing seniors have dropped back down the grades, Francis said they had benefited from their time in the top side.

Four of those players are part of Melton’s Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association under-15 JC Craig Shield team.

They are Josh Oldfield, Travis Stark, Ryan Cran and Zach Micallef.

“They have benefited a lot,” Francis said.

“Josh has batted and bowled really well for Melton, and Ryan has bowled really well too.

“The experience they have during the year has helped with their rep cricket. It’s good to see the young guys coming through.”

Other winners on Saturday in the Johnstone Shield were East Sunbury, Gisborne and Riddell.

In the McIntyre Cup, Diggers Rest Bulla and Bacchus Marsh were both on the winners’ list.

Diggers Rest Bulla had no trouble beating Sunbury, while Bacchus Marsh accounted for Romsey.

Both the Burras and Lions sit in the top four.

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