Battle royale on Sunday

Scott Berechree

ROUND nine of North Gippsland football will be a split round, with just one game being played this weekend.

The focus is on Sunday’s top of the table clash between Churchill and Yarram.

Apart from the sides sitting one and two on the ladder, there is also the added kicker that Yarram beat Churchill in last year’s grand final.

All this combined with the two clubs agreeing to play each other in marquee matches, on Good Friday and the Queen’s Birthday weekend, each year and the added feeling these clashes bring is easy to understand.

After taking the points in a fiercelycontested Good Friday clash at Yarram, Churchill will be keen to do the same in front of what is tipped to be a bumper home crowd this Sunday.

The club has a huge match day function planned featuring guest speakers Craig Jennings, Melbourne Football Club assistant coach, and former Australian netballer Shelley O’Donnell.

Churchill heads into the clash undefeated and two games clear on top of the ladder, while Yarram boasts some terrific recent form and the highest percentage in the league.

Churchill will attempt to make several changes to its line-up from last week’s win with the likes of Brendan Holt, Cain Iorangi and Ben Kearns in the selection mix.

It gives Cougars coach Chris Williams a nice problem at the selection table with reserves coach Joe Whykes, who finally found his goal kicking radar slotting 19 goals last week, also potentially in contention for a senior call up this week.

Williams said he expected a “great midfield contest” with Yarram’s “Bruns, Underwood and Farley all quality players”.

He said the key for Churchill would be to “match it on the inside and try to get them on the outside”, claiming his own team’s speed and spread as two weapons at his disposal.

Williams also suggested Jack Weston, who plays off half-back for Yarram “creates a lot of drive” and stopping him would be key in ensuring a hometown victory.

Yarram coach Matt Scholz also has a few pleasant issues at the selection table. He has to find room for a couple of regular senior players on the back of two fantastic wins over fellow finals hopefuls.

Scholz said he felt the bigger ground at Churchill would help the home side with its “fast, spreading game” style.

The round will conclude the following Saturday.

THERE will be a league-wide bye in East Gippsland football.