The Murrumbateman Eagles defeated ANU Griffins 14.13 (97) to 4.0 (24) over the weekend in Round 11 of the Canberra Times Fourth Grade competition.

Assistant Coach Mark Welsh said the game was the biggest challenge for the Eagles this season as ANU is only second behind them on the ladder and had previously won the 2020 title.

ANU has always been front runners in the competition, so Saturday’s match provided the Eagles with the opportunity to see where they sat with the rest of the teams in the comp.

The Eagles have largely dominated the competition this season only suffering one loss to the Yass Roos 11.9 (75) to 11.12 (78) in a nail-biting match in Round 3.

After the Eagles’ win over ANU on the weekend, Murrumbateman has a stronghold at the top of the ladder followed by the Yass Roos, ANU Griffins, and Woden Blues.

Although Mark said he was impressed with the Eagles’ win over ANU on the weekend he continues trying to keep a level head over the rest of the season.

“We’ve got five more games and then leading into the back end of the season,” he said. “So whilst we take a lot of positives out of the game, we’re definitely trying to keep level-headed about it, and move on to the next week without it causing too many dramas for the boys.”

“We don’t want them to get overconfident.”

Unlikely many teams in the comp at the moment, who have players out due to injury, sickness or COVID isolation each week, the Eagles boasted a full team on Saturday with 22 players and only four away.

“The full team put in hard work and really intense pressure against ANU and that seemed to be able to smother their opportunity to use the ball,” Mark said. “Then we got consistent use of the ball and we probably had a lot more possession than they did.”

Although the Eagles handled their con- versions well over the weekend, Mark said the team needs to work on their goalkicking and conversion rate.

“I think we’ve only had one game this season where we scored more goals than points so that’s probably an area that we can work on.”

The Eagles are striving to work on their fitness and keep up the pressure in-match.

“We will always be working on that area of our game, just to bring a lot of pressure so that the opposition doesn’t have opportunities for easy kicks.”

But Mark said he thinks the number one thing the Eagles are doing well this season is gelling as a team.

“The synergy of the guys compared to this time last year, like they all are enjoying playing footy and they’re enjoying playing it with the guys that they’re around,” he said. “They’re laughing a lot, they’re enjoying it and when you enjoy doing something, obviously, you do the very best you can.”

“They want to play for each other and with each other and then the results speak for themselves.”

There’s been a physical improvement across the board of the team throughout the season but Mark specifically called out Blake Horn and Mitch Lamb, who have improved substantially.

With just five rounds left, the Eagles will be looking to defend their position on the ladder.

Next week the team is up against the Googong Hogs at Murrumbateman Oval on July 2 at 2pm. Followed by an important match against the Woden Blues on July 9 who currently sit fourth on the ladder, and then the Eagles will be taking on the Molonglo Juggernauts on July 17.

Murrumbateman is up against Yass on July 23, an integral match for both teams looking to secure their finals spot followed by Round 16 when the Eagles take on the Bateman’s Bay Seahawks on July 30.

“We’ll just continue good form as a group and individually and try and stay injury-free, as best as we can.”

By Brianna O’Rourke