A season-changing win over an arch-rival and a new contract for 2023, Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson has plenty to smile about.
Matheson was reappointed senior coach by the Hawks late last week and the response from his players was first-class - a stirring seven-point win over third-placed Golden Square that kept their finals hopes alive.
"It was something that we've been chasing all year,'' Matheson said of the performance against the Bulldogs.
"It's up there with the best home and away wins I've had with the club.
"It was a massive win for us on a couple of fronts. We had to win if we wanted to play finals and, just as importantly, it was the manner in which we won.
"We started well and built a good lead, but then they came back hard at us and the scores were level in the last quarter. I thought our boys showed great resilience and character to fight it out and win the game.
"Hopefully, the win kickstarts us and we push on from it."
The Hawks have ridden some highs and lows through the season and it appeared their finals chances might have been quashed when they lost to South Bendigo in round 11.
A solid win over Kangaroo Flat and Saturday's upset win over Golden Square has put the Hawks right back in the hunt for fifth spot.
Matheson never lost faith that the Hawks were good enough to play finals.
Much like some of the other clubs battling for a finals berth, health was always going to play an important role in the latter stages of the season.
"We've had a few boys come back into the side in the last couple of weeks and that makes a huge difference,'' Matheson said.
"That was the best side we've had on the park all year. Most teams have had to deal with injuries and illness, but it just shows how important it is to have your best players available.
"I think we only had two players unavailable this weekend."
Sixth-placed Eaglehawk is only percentage behind Kyneton in the battle for fifth spot, while Sandhurst is lurking one game further behind.
The three clubs play each other over the final five rounds of the season.
"All we're focusing on is us,'' Matheson said.
"If we win all our games then we'll play finals. All we're worried about is winning our games."
As for the fresh contract for 2023, Matheson said it was a no-brainer to stay at Canterbury Park.
"The earlier you can get the ball rolling withose conversations the better, so I'm rapt to stay involved with the club,'' Matheson, who first coached the club in 2019, said.
"I've loved my time with Eaglehawk and I'm very humbled to get the opportunity to push on."
The Hawks could be inside the top five by the end of round 14.
This Saturday they host bottom side Maryborough at Canterbury Park.
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