Sport

Eagles are lean, mean fighting machine

By Brayden May

ON A WEEKLY basis a coach demands 22 contributors across the ground.

Echuca United’s footballers delivered in spades — and then some — on Saturday as they powered to an 83-point victory over Congupna.

From the first bounce, every Eagle chased and harassed their opponent as if their life depended on it — and they refused to lose a one-on-one contest.

“It was quite difficult to pick our better players because everybody did so well,’’ coach Guy Campbell said.

‘‘Everyone is playing their role for the team, which we’ve asked from the beginning of pre-season.

“We’re at a stage now where you have to do something to hold your spot in the team. Picking is only getting harder as the weeks go on.’’

United’s pressure on the ball carrier was exemplified by the small forward trio of Ben Fulford, Billy Barnes and Rowan Priest.

Even when the game was beyond doubt in the second half, they continued to hunt in a pack making life extremely uneasy for their opponents.

“Their pressure went a long way to winning the game, but also to putting a lot of doubt into Congupna’s minds,’’ Campbell said.

“They were a team who wanted to chip their way up the ground but our small forwards didn’t give them an inch of space.

‘‘It had a flow on effect to the likes of Josh (Mellington) and Peter (Quanchi) who made sure they had a physical presence on the game.’’

United’s last two victories against Tungamah and Congupna represent a small win for the Eagles, with both sides having shocked finals contenders already this season.

Given their up and down form of previous seasons, it was integral they picked up big victories to send a message to the rest of the competition.

“I was probably a little more worried about last week to this week,’’ Campbell said. ‘‘We made sure to acknowledge what was going on around us but our main focus is ourselves.

‘‘We have to continue pushing towards what we want to achieve.’’

Next up for United is a trip to take on Barooga, who are battling to keep their season alive as they sit one game outside the top eight.