Last season, Whittlesea’s aim was to stay in the Northern Football League division 1, having won promotion the previous season.

They did that – winning five games to become the first team since 2012 to avoid relegation in the same season it was promoted – and now the Eagles want to stay on track.

Eagles’ coach Jim Atkins said it was a great feeling to stay up.

“What we are doing seems to be working … we’ve tweaked the game plan a little bit though,” he said. “We want to win a few more games than we did last year. If we can do that, then we’ll reassess.

“Last season, we were competitive against every team at times. We weren’t going into games thinking we would lose.”

One of the biggest things the Eagles need to improve is their consistency of play across the game. Last season, they lost five games by fewer than 20 points.

They started 2017 with a three-point loss to Montmorency, 11.13 (79)-11.10 (76), having had chances to secure victory late in the game.

Playing assistant coach Justin Sherman kicked five goals, while Jay Russell was named the Eagles’ best.

“We weren’t good for the whole four quarters,” Atkins said. “The last four to five minutes of the game, we didn’t play well. We’ve got to fix it up, and we’ve been working hard on trying to do that.

“We keep getting ourselves into these scenarios … the consistency will come.”

Most of last season’s side has returned in a good sign for the club. Former skipper Roy Dyson retired at the end of last season, while Luke Deards didn’t return.

Coming into the team are Tim Atkins, a former premiership winning ruckman with Greensborough, while Matt Dornauf will play just for the Eagles after being aligned with Essendon’s VFL team last year.

The club’s juniors continue to come through as well, with four under-19s players in round one.

Atkins, in his second year as coach, said they had more depth this season.

The Eagles only played one game over the Easter weekend. Their next match is against Bundoora on April 22.