AFTER a week off for the Community Championships, regular service resumes in Gippsland League football on Saturday.
Hoping for a return to winning ways is ninth-placed Sale, which will host Warragul.
The Gulls are in seventh place on the ladder after their upset victory over premier Maffra before the week off.
Following their victory over Drouin, the Magpies have lost to Traralgon and Morwell, with injuries taking their toll.
A lot has rested on the shoulders of Kane Martin to led the way in the midfield.
The absence of key players has given others the chance to step-up, such as Jack McLinden, who kickedsix goals against Morwell a fortnight ago.
Warragul has been inconsistent to begin the season. Heavy defeats to Moe and Bairnsdale have gone with victories over Morwell and Maffra.
The Magpies will need to find a way to quell the impact of the potent midfield combination of Nate Paredes and Brad Scalzo, who was Gippsland’s best in last weekend’s loss to Yarra Ranges.
Brayden Fowler has shown signs of another good season in attack, having kicked 13 goals.
Trips to the eastern end of the league have proven difficult for Warragul since returning to this league in 2005. The Gulls have played 31 games at Sale, Maffra and Bairnsdale in the last 12 years, winning just two of them.
The Gulls are getting better, however, as they came close at Bairnsdale in 2015 and won there last year.
Also last year, they led the Magpies in Sale at the final break, but were unable to post their first win there since 2009.
Eagles on the rebound
WITH two weeks to recover from its first loss of the season, second-placed Maffra will host Wonthaggi.
The Eagles didn’t begin well at Warragul, losing by 16 points. Trailing by 34 points at the main break, the Eagles had the better of the second half, but it was too late.
A better start is critical against the Power, which is in sixth place after winning its past two matches.
Dominic O’Connor and Eli Richards have been prominent in the Wonthaggi forward line, which will take on a Maffra back line featuring the in form Jack Johnstone and Sam Pleming.
Aiden Lindsay and Kane McCarthy use the ball well around the packs for the Power, and will challenge the likes of Danny Butcher and Kel Porter.
If the Power can control the midfield, it will restrict supply to Eagles forwards Mitch Bennett and Darren Sheen, who have kicked 27 goals between them this season.
COMING off its first home-and-away loss since round 12, 2015, Leongatha will welcome Morwell for a three versus four match-up.
The Parrots had two comfortable wins against the Tigers last year. Their win at home in round eight saw the Parrots kick their biggest score and winning margin over the Tigers since 2003.
Leongatha had a fair few names in action at interleague, while the Tigers’ biggest contributor was Anthony Rosato, who was named best-on-ground in the under 18s match.
EIGHTH will host fifth in the far east, and both sides have an opportunity to overcome early season challenges.
Bairnsdale did it tough at Wonthaggi last round but accounted for Warragul at home seven days before that.
Moe has struggled away from home this season, but could get back Dylan Farrell, Nathan Lee and James De Virgilio from injury.
The Lions haven’t won at Bairnsdale since 1998.
TRARALGON should continue its undefeated start to the season at Drouin.
The Maroons have won their past 14 matches against the Hawks.
The Hawks are the only side yet to win a match, and have a percentage of just 24.82. Three of their four losses have been by more than 100 points.
A highlight of the game will be the battle between two of the best big men in the league, Drouin coach Bob McCallum and Traralgon’s Ben Amberg.
Interleague wasn’t kind to the Maroons. Adrian Slottje did his knee in the first 60 seconds and Tim Northe came off with a calf injury.