FRESH from a weekend off, Sale will host Warragul Saturday during round three of Gippsland League football.
The Magpies are one of three undefeated teams after two rounds. Both wins have been hard-fought for, with new coach Jack Johnstone adding some toughness to the line-up.
The pressure applied by the midfielders has set up many scoring opportunities.
Johnstone, Jordan Dowsett, Jordan Dessent, Shannen Lange and Daine McGuiness were impressive during the opening two matches.
The Magpies' previous win at Bairnsdale, was noteworthy in that they trailed by six points at three-quarter-time before booting four unanswered goals in the final term to win by 18. The Magpies controlled the play during the third term, but that didn't convert onto the scoreboard until the final term.
The Magpies have won their past five matches against Warragul, but will be wary of the challenge posed.
While the Gulls lost to Drouin by 29 points in round two, they were only four points short of Bairnsdale in their opening match.
Nick Mulqueen and Mitch Mobelius will look to take the challenge up to the Magpies in the midfield, Brad Hefford has begun the season well in defence, while forward Brayden Fowler will need to be kept in check by the Sale back line.
MAFFRA faces the prospect of starting the season 3-0 when it travels to Traralgon on Saturday.
The Eagles are on the bottom of the ladder at 2-0, their worst start to a season since 1998.
While the Eagles had their chances against Sale in round one, they were out-played by Moe a fortnight ago. The week off would have provided a good opportunity to assess their losses and figure a way to end their slow start to the season.
Maffra could be buoyed by the fact it has won its past six matches against the Maroons, and won its past two matches against them in Traralgon, which was also the scene of the Eagles' 2019 grand final victory over Leongatha. However, the Eagles may not have the aura that has daunted opposition sides in the past 20 years.
The Eagles have only managed three goals in each of their matches so far this season.
Make no mistake, there is still the quality of players there, but others will need to step up.
Unlike the Eagles, Traralgon played last weekend. The Maroons opened their season account with a three-point win in Morwell.
Among the players the Eagles will need to contain are Matt Northe and Cory Stockdale, who form the core of a strong midfield unit, and key position players Dylan Loprese and Tye Hourigan.
LADDER leader Wonthaggi will host Morwell. The Power built on its big opening round victory over Drouin by defeating Leongatha by 11 points in arguably a more impressive performance.
The Tigers are the next side to test the improved Power line-up, and will be looking to follow up their effort against Traralgon on Saturday night.
The Tigers came home strongly, but couldn't find a way through the Maroons' defence to land the killer blow.
BAIRNSDALE will head to Moe to play the undefeated Lions.
The Redlegs were in a good position to back up their round one victory by defeating Sale, but were outrun in the second half.
The challenge will be no less tomorrow against the Lions, whose pressure set up many scoring opportunities at Maffra in round two.
LEONGATHA will host Drouin, with both teams 1-1.
The Hawks would've been buoyed by their performance to defeat Warragul last start, while the Parrots have had two weeks to go over their loss to Wonthaggi.