A brave Craigieburn gave it a crack but fell short against Rupertswood in the Essendon District Football League division 1.
Missing a large chunk of their best side, the Eagles were in the game until the last quarter. The Sharks’ experience stood out late as they settled and ensured an 12.8 (80)-8.7 (55) win.
Eagles coach Justin Sherman said he couldn’t have asked for much more from the playing group.
“I think we had eight out of our 22 out with illness,” he said.
“Every club is finding it a bit of a grind. We had three or four debutants, which was a lot of upside.
“The guys just toiled away and showed a bit of grit. We went in wanting to be competitive and we gave credit to the boys after the game.
“We could not question their fight.”
Nathan Perrone continued his good form, kicking three goals. Sherman said the move of Perrone into the midfield had been a key one in recent weeks.
“He kicked three from the midfield and has been really influential these last three weeks once he’s gone into the midfield,” he said.
“He has played there previously at premier level and has provided us with a bit of spark. We had no one who was able to break away from the stoppages which is an area we had really highlighted.
“He’s been that link man for us and can kick goals. He’s become a handful and is leading from the front.”
Sherman was also really impressed with the debut of 16-year-old Denver Byrne saying he didn’t look out of place.
The Eagles sit in eighth spot after six rounds with just one win.
In a season when they’ve come back down from premier division, it has been a tough start.
“We are under no illusions we are where we do not want to be at the moment,” Sherman said.
“We’re looking at youth and where we can get a spark from. Kids and youth tend to give you that as they don’t want to let you down.
“It’s a long season and if a little luck can go your way, you can go on a run. We will keep at it and stick fat and hopefully things will turn around.”
The Eagles this week face Tullamarine, who suffered its first loss of the season against Airport West on Saturday.
Airport West got the jump in the first quarter and were able to lead throughout in the 18.15 (123)-14.12 (96) win.
Sherman said it would be a massive test for them.
“Hopefully we’ll get a few personnel back and we can reset and give a good crack.”
In other results, Westmeadows made it two in a row, beating Hillside.
The game was even for three quarters with the Tigers leading by six points at the last change. Nine goals to one in the final quarter sealed an 18.14 (122)-9.10 (64) win.
In premier division, Greenvale lost to Strathmore, 11.15 (81)-8.6 (54).
Samuel Zumbo was named the Jets best.
In division 2, Jacana lost to Burnside Heights, 23.21 (159)-3.7 (25).