ATTENTION in North Gippsland football on Saturday will be focused on the battle of the past two premiers.
With four of the five games pitting teams with genuine finals claims against teams that could safely book their respective trips away for late August, the clash between Yarram and Sale City is the clear stand out.
After dropping its first match for the year in round six, Sale City will look to return to the winners’ circle when its travels to Yarram.
Awaiting the Bulldogs will be a Demon line-up full of confidence after it surged to third on the ladder on the back of a percentage-boosting 177-point win against Gormandale.
A Sale City win will have it remain within touching distance of top spot, whereas a home victory would likely provide Churchill a two-game buffer on top of the ladder.
Bulldogs coach Jacob Schuback lamented his side’s inability to play a consistent four quarters during last weekend’s loss to Heyfield and said Yarram would be “a massive contest” for his team.
When questioned about any plans for Yarram’s prime movers such as Griffin Underwood, Liam Farley or Jack Weston, Schuback said his side would “not focus on stopping a couple of players” and the Bulldogs would “pay respect” to all of the Demons’ line-up.
Schuback was hopeful of being able to recall a couple of players.
Yarram too will need to make at least one change, with Chris Coulthard suspended during the week and given a four-week ban, with two games forming part of a suspended sentence, following an investigation stemming from Yarram’s Good Friday clash with Churchill was completed.
Coulthard will be sorely missed, having been a likely opponent for City small forward Nick Grainger.
While not a like-for-like replacement, Yarram coach Matt Scholz said he would have Ben Vardy available on Saturday.
This game kicks off a big four weeks for the Demons, who have to meet the other four sides currently in the top five.
Like his opposing coach, Scholz said he’d back his side in to win the contest rather than focusing on stopping opposition players. Scholz noted, however, the Bulldogs were great ball users, so he would like to shut down their run and carry on the outside.
HEYFIELD will enter its match with Cowwarr full of confidence after the Kangaroos’ win over Sale City.
Coach Rick Galea was confident if his troops stuck to his game plan, they would be capable of beating anyone, and so it proved.
Saturday’s match seems an easier outing for Heyfield, however, as Yarram can attest, the Saints have already proven they are capable of a surprise result.
Cowwarr was left a little nonplussed after last week’s loss to Woodside where the Wildcats took advantage of the Gippsland League bye and selected several former players.
For Cowwarr to win, it will need to shut down the run and carry of Heyfield’s gun on-ball brigade.
Adam Wallace continued his outstanding start to the year for the Kangaroos with a best-on-ground performance last week, with Jack Woodland also touching plenty of the ball.
If the Kangaroos can keep Pat Tainsh in check, it is doubtful the Saints can get enough of the ball to the likes of Shane Morgan, Dale Murphy and Nick Wozniak for them to kick a winning score.
At the other end of the ground, Shaun Humphreys, who has kicked 16 majors in the past month, will cause plenty of headaches for the Saints’ coaching staff.
AFTER chalking up win number one last weekend, Woodside welcome Rosedale for what is a must-win clash for the visiting team.
If not for a second quarter lapse in which they conceded four goals to none against Churchill, the Blues would be only percentage off a top three spot and a game from the top of the ladder.
The reality is, however, Rosedale sits sixth on the table with its only win against a fellow finals contender being a three-point thriller over fifth-placed TTU. Simply put, Saturday is the kind of game Rosedale need to win to keep in touch with the top sides.
Woodside will see a handful of last week’s winning team returning to their Gippsland league sides.
The Wildcats will look to the outside run of Tom King and the aerial dominance of Tom Crosby and coach Ryan Foat to keep Rosedale’s Adam Diamond and Dale Fleming from dominating through the middle.
The problem for them, however, will be once the ball goes into the Blues forward line. The Wildcats don’t look to have the personnel to stop Brandon McDonald and Frazar Brouns.
THE league’s only undefeated team, Churchill, should have the measure of Glengarry when the two clubs battle it out for the Gary “Woosha” Welsh Cup.
Glengarry has shown glimpses of improvement at times, but are yet to put in a four-quarter performance against a top side. Their 30-goal demolition of Gormandale is the Magpies’ only win of the year so far.
Churchill have taken all before it, while also getting a multitude of senior experience into their younger players. A couple of those youngsters should be available for selection, with Rory Peter having served his one-match suspension and Kyle Hearn potentially available after pulling up a little ginger after the Cougars’ win over Cowwarr two weeks ago.
Sam Burgess and Gavin Swann will play their 300th club games for Gormandale, when it travels to Tyers.
Sitting on zero wins, six losses with a percentage of 15, the Tigers will play Traralgon-Tyers United, which is coming off a 15-goal win.