WITH a number of tantalising contests between teams in the top six, there is plenty to like about round 16 of North Gippsland football, but there is no bigger game than that between second-placed Sale City and Heyfield, who sits one game behind in third.
City coach Nick Hider was fully aware the stakes were high against the Kangaroos, who handed the Bulldogs their second defeat of the season, and was hopeful his side could maintain its winning form at home.
“We have only lost one game at home in the past three seasons, so we would like to maintain our winning form at home and make it a tough trip for opposition sides,” he said.
Hider was hopeful the Bulldogs would have the goods to build their confidence ahead of finals.
“Last time Heyfield’s talls got hold of us and made it hard, but saying that, they were good all over the park.
“We are a different side now; we are building on hopefully peaking at the right time of year and are hopeful having drawn some tough matches this year heading into finals, that this will help ensure that we are ready to go come the first week of finals.
“It’s pretty important that we get the win and secure the double chance to ensure that we finish in the top three. With there being little between fourth to seventh, you need that second chance.”
Continuing to blood their talented crop of under 18 players due to the absence of players, Hider was hopeful his side would settle ahead of the finals.
“Our list is very different from last season, we have nine to 10 new guys in the side and it has taken a while to get used to the change and an unsettled line-up,” he said.
“The kids are performing well and we will continue playing and working with them.
“This week is another big test for the side, a win against Heyfield would give us confidence going into finals.”
COWWARR has won five of its past six matches as the Saints look to firm their hold on a finals spot, but will be tested when Rosedale visits.
The Blues come into the match hot off a blistering performance against Woodside. The same can be said about the Saints’ percentage-boosting efforts last Saturday against Boisdale-Briagolong, but last year’s preliminary finalists will be aware it will be far from one-way traffic against the competition’s top defensive unit.
The pressure will be on the Blues to continue their form, while for Cowwarr, the prized scalp of a competition front runner will boost its confidence.
IN other NGFNL matches tomorrow, a win against fellow Bombers Boisdale-Briagolong would keep Traralgon-Tyers United’s faint finals chances alive, the match between bottom sides Woodside and Gormandale is sure to offer plenty, and Glengarry faces a danger game against Churchill, who defeated the Magpies by two goals in round seven.
For more read Friday’s Gippsland Times.