Craigieburn knew after its final round loss to East Keilor, it still had plenty left on the table for when the two teams would meet in an Essendon District Football League division 1 semi final a week later.

In the final round, the Cougars claimed the minor premiership with a 60 point win.

That would be a distant memory on Saturday afternoon at Windy Hill, as the Eagles stormed home for a 26-point win and the first spot in the grand final next week.

Eagles coach Lance Whitnall said they were exactly where they wanted to be pre-season.

“It’s a good feeling around the place,” he said.

“We set ourselves for a chance to get back into premier division. A couple of years ago we set the foundations to get back up to premier and this is another stepping stone.

“Last year we made a preliminary final and we knew with a few more quality players we would give ourselves a chance.”

Whitnall is the first to admit that their round 18 match wasn’t their best and they would have to improve if they were to get the win.

For three quarters, the match was a thriller. Scores were level at quarter time, it was a two-point margin at half time and three points the other way at the last break.

No one would predict what would happen next, with the Eagles kicking seven goals to three, to run away with the win.

Whitnall said they had tweaked a few small things at three quarter time.

“We responded and played a better brand of football,” he said of this week.

“It was neck and neck throughout the game and we didn’t get control until the minute.

“We had to keep giving it a crack and keep persisting right to the end. It’s pleasing they we could dig deep and fight it out.”

Craigieburn

Picture Jamie Morey Photography

Whitnall said it was pleasing to get a strong four quarter performance with an even spread across the board.

He said it was hard to pick their best players.

Corey Viani, Caelan Anderson and a returning Tye Browning were named their best.

The Eagles shared the goals around with Shannon Smith, Viani and Josh Young kicked three goals each.

The Eagles now have the week off and will then face the winner of the preliminary final, between East Keilor vs Tullamarine.

With wet conditions predicted for the preliminary final, Whitnall said they were happy to sit back and watch the other two sides battle it out.

He said the boys would get together before the match and then go and watch it together.

The Eagles look set to have some selection dilemmas for the grand final.

Ryan Bongetti and Jesse Davies are set to return to the side.

“They are two of our better players,” Whitnall said.

“It’s unfortunate, but we can’t fit 28 players into 22. No one deserves to be dropped.”