STRATFORD will look to bounce back and hold top spot on the East Gippsland football ladder when it hosts bottom-placed Orbost-Snowy Rovers in round 12 tomorrow.
The Swans hold a handy percentage gap at the top of the table, and will see the contest against the struggling Blues outfit as a chance to add to it.
Following a strong start to the season, where it looked to be the big improver of the competition, the Blues have fallen away significantly, losing their past five matches.
Challenging for a top four spot early in the season, Orbost-Snowy Rovers’ season reached its low point on Saturday with a thumping 120-point loss to Lakes Entrance, sending the Blues to the bottom of the table.
The Seagulls’ tall forwards had a field day in front of goal last week, and Swans Keiran O’Dwyer and Josh Kiss will be hoping to regain some form after being kept quiet last week.
The Blues will be hoping for a more competitive showing this week.
Stratford will be confident of winning the ball out of the middle with a strong midfield taking advantage of the good form of talls Kaine Kerton, Alan Beechey and Lachlan Heywood.
Steve Alderton will be a key out of defence for Orbost-Snowy Rovers, while forward Deon Scott will need to make the most of his opportunities with Swans defender Jordan Clegg also in good form.
Just two games outside the top four, albeit effectively three due to a significant percentage gap, finals is still a mathematical possibility for Orbost-Snowy Rovers in an even competition, but the Blues will need to quickly return to the form which saw it account for some of the top sides early in the season.
More than competitive in patches against premier Lucknow last week, some small lapses cost Stratford last week and the Swans would be aware of the need for a full four-quarter effort to defeat the top sides.
An upset loss would see the Swans relinquish top spot, with Paynesville guaranteed four points with the bye, while Lucknow will start slight favourite against Lindenow.
This weekend looms as an opportunity to practice for perfect, and the Swans will be looking for a strong four-quarter effort this week, knowing that doing so could provide a big victory.
Plenty on the line
PERENNIAL finalists Lindenow and Lucknow will meet in a big match at the Cattery, with plenty on the line.
Victory will be important for both sides, with the Magpies looking to keep in touch with Stratford and Paynesville at the top of the table, while Lindenow will be looking to keep its hold on a top four spot.
A loss would see the Magpies drop to third, possibly a game behind Stratford and Paynesville, while a loss to Lindenow could place the Cats a game outside the top four.
The Magpies won the key moments to account for ladder leader Stratford last week.
Brenton Martin completes a strong attack in a Magpies outfit that is beginning to get players back from injury, with key forward Brent Isles returning last week.
The Cats are also beginning to get some key players back, with Michael Delaney relishing the return to the forward line in last weeks win over Paynesville.
The improving Lindenow side will be looking to secure another finals berth, and the top sides can’t afford to underestimate them.
With both sides coming off wins against strong opponents, tomorrow’s contest at Lindenow will not disappoint.
Big game at Lakes
LAKES Entrance and Wy Yung will meet in another big match.
Following a slow start to the season affected by off field dramas, Lakes Entrance has built into some good form. The Seagulls’ percentage received a significant boost last week, and have shown they can match it with the top sides in recent weeks.
The Seagulls will enter the contest aware they can still make a play for finals football if they can keep up their impressive form, and will need to start with victory over a Wy Yung outfit sitting just outside the top four to close the gap.
Victory could close the gap to the top four to just one game should the Seagulls win this weekend, but a loss will make its campaign to return to finals football significantly harder.
The Tigers, who have also recovered from a slow start to the season, enter the contest with the possibility of entering the top four a massive incentive for victory.
PAYNESVILLE has the bye.