By: Joseph Arthur
CROYDON enjoyed the perfect start to its 2019 campaign with a convincing 42-point away win against Mooroolbark.
First-game players Ben Cardamone and Riley Costantino were both named in the best, with Costantino kicking four majors and Cardamone seeing plenty of the footy.
Senior coach Morris D’Alessandro credited the club’s new recruits for playing key roles in his side’s victory.
“Those two boys (Cardamone and Costantino) really helped us on Saturday, they’ve been some really good inclusions,” D’Alessandro said.
“They’re a couple of junior boys that went away to play at a higher level and have come back and had real impact.”
The strong start of both Cardamone and Costantino is reflective of Croydon’s smart off-season recruiting, bringing in youth that can have an immediate impact.
However, not all of Croydon’s fresh faces in Round 1 were new acquisitions.
The club also benefited from the timely return of gun Matthew McKenzie, who after missing 12 games last year due to injury, made his return to the field and was voted best afield after a dominant display through the middle whilst also getting on the board with a goal.
“He (McKenzie) was very solid for us in the midfield and we did miss him a fair bit last year,” D’Alessandro said.
“He’s had a really strong pre-season and that showed.”
Croydon is looking to be one of Division 1’s big improvers this year and after showing signs towards the end of 2018, D’Alessandro firmly believes the club is on the up.
“Last year we sort of rebuilt the side and they really started to gel towards the back end of last season, so we knew we had something special brewing and we saw the signs of that again over the weekend,” he said.
“We focused on pressuring the opposition and we knew that was going to be a focal point for us.
“It was a bit scratchy early but you can expect that in the first round and we settled down.
“We were still pretty comfortable in how we were playing and we just had to keep grinding away at it.
“Ultimately we want to keep on going in the same vain that we finished off in.”
Croydon begins 2019 with three away games due to the refurbishing of the club’s change-rooms with its first home game not coming until Round 4.
D’Alessandro recognised that away games are always tough but he couldn’t have asked for a better start.
“We’ve planned for these away games and we are hoping we have some really good performances and in the back-end of the year we will get those home games back, so we are looking forward to them,” he said.
Croydon will hope for more good form from its recruits as the club prepares for its Round 2 match-up against Doncaster East.