By Nick Creely
Mighty Mick Fogarty has the undefeated Beaconsfield absolutely humming.
Has the lid well and truly blown off at Holm Park?
Externally it certainly has.
It’s pretty hard to ignore seven straight wins to start the season – three of which have come against competition heavyweights – and showcased traits that suggest they are up to their eyeballs for the 2021 premiership.
But there’s no way that the master coach will believe his side has achieved anything just yet.
The Eagles – as they have been all season – were dynamic, sharp by foot, well-structured and unbelievably committed to the contest as they knocked off reigning premiers Narre Warren on Saturday, 12.13 (85) to 12.9 (81).
And despite the Magpies roaring home and almost pinching a win after trailing by 36 points at the final change, it was yet another indicator that there’s something brewing for a club chasing their first piece of senior silverware in seven years.
The Magpies were never going to lie down and cop the defeat – as a proud club they charged home with class and energy and will take confidence it’s best footy isn’t far off, but the Eagles held their nerve when it mattered.
“We’re really happy with the win against the reigning premiers on their home deck,” a pleased Fogarty told the Gazette.
“And we took a lot of learnings out of the last quarter – Narre came home like an absolute train, so to hold on was good for our footy club.
“It was a really terrific win.”
Despite scrambling to hold on as Shane Dwyer’s Magpies stormed home and almost pinched an incredible comeback victory, Fogarty was adamant that it will leave his side better placed next time around.
“There was so much to take out of it,” he said.
“It’s about how we went down the line with the footy – we didn’t quite adjust the way we wanted to, but we’ll explore that.”
While the last quarter may have been more of a reminder that the Magpies are one hell of a side and never quite out of a contest, the Eagles played some destructive football for the first three quarters.
Off the back of inspired performances from ex-Saint Brandon White and midfield star Nick Battle, as well as the likes of Jack Docherty, key forward Matt Johnson (three goals) and excitement machine Sam Merrick producing commanding displays across the ground, the Eagles raced out to a 29-point quarter time lead.
In the end, the Magpies were never quite able to peg that margin back in as it ballooned to almost seven goals in the third term as the dangerous forward line combining of Johnson, Jake Bowd – who has taken to his move down forward like a duck to water – while the speedy, elusive Jafar Ocaa did some incredible things during his three goal cameo.
He’s one player to keep an eye on for higher honours, according to his coach.
Fogarty said that the key focus against such a quality outfit was ensuring that his side came out with an aggressive attitude and to make a statement of intent from the opening bounce.
That was obvious through the Eagles’ sharp ball movement, which saw the side move the ball with precision, and a focus on utilising the expanses of the ground while also maintaining a hard-edge at the coalface.
“In Round 1 we took a while to get going, so the message for the guys was to be composed, and really crack into the contest,” he said.
“And when you do that, the scoring looks after itself.
“We’ve got terrific leaders that really drive that – Whitey (Brandon White) is terrific with his on-field leadership, he and Nick Battle live for these types of games – they know they’re going to cop plenty of attention, but they just keep coming.
“They drive our standards – we’re lucky as a footy club to have them.”
On White – who has returned to local footy after five years in the AFL system for St Kilda with 11 games – Fogarty said he was tremendous young man who is flourishing being back home.
The classy left-footer is putting together a wonderful 2021 campaign, and for the second straight game polled the perfect 10 votes in the Gazette’s Coaches Award.
“For him to be at the highest level for five years, and to slot in to local footy from the highs of AFL football and give everything to the club is a real credit to him,” he said.
“He’s had to adapt – he’s doing really well.”
There was plenty to like from a Narre Warren perspective, with the reigning premiers boasting a 5-3 record and sitting comfortably in third spot.
Jake Richardson’s excellent form continued, with the big man in vintage touch to slot four majors, key defender Jesse Davies continues to go from strength to strength and put together another classy performance, while Brad Scalzo and Tommy Miller are in great touch.
Still undefeated, and with a 7-0 record, Fogarty said the key focus was to not get complacent and to treat each game with the same intensity.
“We’re wary of that (not dropping the standards),” he said.
“In the past, it’s been about managing the expectations, and each week focusing on just getting a good result.
“We’ve got to keep adjusting, we’re ticking all the boxes – our aim is just to qualify (for finals), and then it all starts again.”
Ahead of another monster clash this weekend against Cranbourne, with the Eagles set to welcome back legendary full forward Marc Holt, Fogarty said his group needs to be at the top of their game to keep the unbeaten run alive.
“What they do is move the ball well and they’re really well structured,” he said.
“But we’ll look to take their strengths away from them – they’ve got some great players, the likes of Holt, Ellison, Michael Boland is back in the ruck – so they’ll be red-hot.”
The Eagles host Cranbourne in this week’s blockbuster at Holm Park at 2:10pm, with the club to also host its 1980-81 premiership reunion, which will celebrate the club’s first ever back-to-back flags.