There wouldn’t have been many bigger smiles on players faces in the Gisborne and District Cricket Association on Saturday, than the Eynesbury Eagles’ Johnstone Shield side.
After a season where they have been on the wrong end of some one-sided results, the Eagles broke through for a win in the final round of the season. And it wasn’t just a win, it was a win against finals bound Riddell.
Eagles captain-coach Tristan Francis couldn’t have been prouder of the group.
“I didn’t think we would win a match this season,” he said.
“They were a team that smashed us earlier in the season. That was our biggest result for the year. I’ve never seen bigger smiles on their faces.”
The Eagles set the result up on day one, when they made they made 9-295 from their overs.
Francis led the way with 136 not out.
With the runs on the board, the Eagles were able to bowl the Bombers out for 185.
Young Max Giulieri was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-29.
Francis said it was the performances of Giulieri, Josh Oldfield and Ryan Cran, not only in the final game, but throughout the season that had impressed him most.
“They all held their own and played roles for the side,” he said.
“Josh wanted to open the batting in the final match and Ryan put his hand up to come in at number three.
“Ryan batted really well and made a mature 26, which is something for a 14-year-old to bat the way he did.
“Max took 3-29 off 10 overs and he’s also just 14. Josh has opened the bowling all season.
“The young kids have made some big steps. It’s a very proud moment for the club.”
Oldfield took the experience he had learnt in the Eagles first XI and was named in the Victorian Sub-District Cricket Association Craig Shield west team. He was the only Melton player selected in that team.
Francis, who has coached those boys in the under-15 team as well, said they would continue to focus on developing these kids, as they hoped to prepare them to play at higher levels.
“We should be a feeder team for these players to play sub-district and Premier cricket. If we can get another two or three years with them, it would be great.
“Hopefully in 10-15 years time when they are finished at the higher level and come back and repay the faith.”
Despite the results of the top side, Francis said the season had been a successful one with results not meaning anything.
He said what they had done had exceeded all expectations.
“With the players we had lost in the pre-season, we felt we were out of our depth,” he said. “We felt we should have been playing in a lower division [as the start of the season].
“Success isn’t always gauged by results. We won one more match than we thought we would.
“We wanted to give the young kids ago. Everyone is amazed how far they have progressed and they have stepped up and we can see what they can do.”
The Eagles have three junior sides in grand finals starting this weekend.