LOCAL rivals Woodside and Yarram will clash in North Gippsland football on Saturday.
The fifth-placed Wildcats will be keen to end the Demons’ undefeated start to the season.
Woodside returned the winners’ list against Cowwarr after back-to-back losses.
The Wildcats were challenged early, but ran away from the Saints in the second half to win by 53 points.
Best-on-ground last weekend, wingman Bailey Tatnell has been a strong recruit this season, while big man Tom Crosby is athletic and Ryan Foat can trouble opponents — he kicked five goals against Cowwarr.
The Wildcats can fall out of the top five if they lose on Saturday and Rosedale defeats Glengarry.
Keen to make amends for its grand final loss last year, Yarram has been the stand-out team this season.
The Demons defeated reigning premier Sale City last weekend by 27 points, with their run and carry of the ball spreading the Bulldogs’ midfield and defence.
Even with some key players injured, the Demons’ younger players have stepped up.
Griffin Underwood is expected to return from a hamstring injury.
Apart from a nine-point victory over Traralgon-Tyers United, the Demons haven’t been tested across four quarters. They are the only side with a percentage of more than 200.
The clubs have a strong rivalry, with their matches creating a lot feeling among players and supporters.
The last time the clubs met, Yarram won a fierce match at Woodside by 61 points.
Headlines centred on a Woodside player being left concussed following an on-field incident, and whether the length of time play was held up for should have led to the match being abandoned.
FOURTH-PLACED Sale City will host Gormandale.
Inside the top five on percentage, the Bulldogs are struggling to find consistent form. A 122-point belting of Cowwarr was followed last weekend by a nine-goal loss at Yarram.
The Bulldogs were troubled by the Demons speed, particularly during the second half, when the hosts kicked eight goals to three after trailing by five points at the main break.
Gormandale is coming off its second win of the season. The 37-point victory over Glengarry moved the Tigers into eighth place on the ladder.
Chase Saunders stood-out for the Tigers, kicking eight goals, while Brendan Duve and Troy Forrest continued their good recent form.
The Bulldogs can shore up their position in the top five over the next three rounds, with matches against teams in the bottom half of the ladder.
HEYFIELD risks losing touch with the top five if it’s defeated by second-placed Traralgon-Tyers United.
Already two wins outside the top five, the seventh-placed Kangaroos have lost their past two matches.
Last weekend, the Kangaroos trailed Churchill at each break. They kicked only seven behinds in the second quarter to trail by 26 points at half-time, but reduced the deficit to 23 by full time.
Heyfield will need play four strong quarters if it’s to defeat TTU, which has lost only one match this season, at Tyers.
The Bombers defeated Rosedale by three goals last weekend, set-up by a five-goal to two first term.
ROSEDALE will head to Glengarry, with victory potentially lifting the Blues into the top five.
The Blues weren’t disgraced against TTU, but they struggled to match inroads after the Bombers’ stronger start. The loss ended the Blues’ three-game winning run, but they should return to the winners’ list on Saturday.
The ninth-placed Magpies have just one win this season, missing an opportunity for a second last weekend against Gormandale.
The Blues will be without forward Scott Johnstone, who injured his knee in the opening 10 seconds of last weekend’s match.
COWWARR will host Churchill.
It’s a big ask for the Saints to record this first win of the season against Churchill, which is in third place following wins against Woodside and Heyfield.
The Cougars have the score the most total points this season, averaging more than 102 points per match.
In better news for the Saints, last weekend’s home game was their first using new changerooms. Earlier home games had to be moved as the facilities weren’t ready.