Things are looking up at Mansfield.
Not only did the Eagles end a difficult run of close Goulburn Valley League losses on Saturday, former Carlton tall Bret Thornton is making his one-off appearance more permanent.
The 189-game AFL player booted four goals in his debut at Mansfield, as the home side ran out 47-point winners against Shepparton Swans.
The Eagles raced out of the blocks with the first six goals of the contest before taking their foot off the pedal as the young Swans were up for the fight.
The visitors’ trouble this season has been kicking a score, but they had no such trouble in the first half and had 10 goals at the main break to be within five points of the Eagles.
But Mansfield pushed ahead in the third quarter as the game tightened up, before slamming through six goals in the final quarter to finish with a convincing result.
Eagles coach Cameron Hotton said having Thornton in the side freed up star Ben Fagan to push forward and produce a best-on-ground display with six goals.
‘‘Bret took some pressure off the other forwards by taking their (best) defender and having a couple of guys on him at one stage,’’ Hotton said.
‘‘Ben Fagan started off in the back half, but we didn’t really have a match-up for him and we pushed him forward and he kicked two goals almost immediately.
‘‘He could’ve had a bag of 10 because he had 6.6 in the end, but he enjoyed the freedom of not having that best defender on him.’’
Brett Mahoney and Tom German fired in the midfield, while Luke Walsh was more than solid in defence.
Ryan Bartlett and Jayden Howes also presented good options up forward and kicked two goals each.
Thornton has prior commitments for this weekend’s game against Shepparton on the rebound, but he is expected to feature against Rochester on June 24.
The good news continued during the week with Patrick Marks cleared of a season-ending knee injury, but he will still miss up to six weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament.
Lachie Christopher is pushing to prove his fitness after suffering a bad hamstring injury a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, there were mixed emotions for Swans coach Paul Griffiths after another encouraging performance.
‘‘I said to the guys after the game that we’ve gone from being a team that is trying to minimise damage and progressed to a team that is challenging teams on the scoreboard now,’’ Griffiths said.
‘‘The game was there for us to win, unfortunately we weren’t able to go with Mansfield for long enough and it’s always hard when a team kicks the first six goals of the game.’’
Midfield star BJ Squire had a typical standout game, while Tim Ewart produced a powerful performance in the ruck.
Nathan Terlich and Jimmy Bennett had good days out with three goals each up forward, while Dylan Kerr was outstanding.
The winless Swans host Tatura at Princess Park on Saturday.
Mansfield 6.1, 10.8, 13.11, 19.18 (132)
Shepparton Swans 4.0, 10.3, 11.6, 13.7 (85)
Mansfield: Ben Fagan, Luke Walsh, Tom German, Brett Mahoney, Ryan Bartlett, Jayden Howes.
Swans: BJ Squire, Michael Rimato, Nick Calandro, Dylan Kerr, Nathan Terlich, Tim Ewart.
Mansfield: Ben Fagan 6, Bret Thornton 4, Ryan Bartlett 2, Jayden Howes 2, Mitch Wareham, Adam Boshevski, Brant Anselmi, Jimmy Herridge.
Swans: Nathan Terlich 3, Jimmy Bennett 3, Jared Service, Shaun Bennie, Jayden Clarke, Chris Cullinan, Quade Johnstone, BJ Squire, Dylan Kerr.