FOR the second consecutive weekend, the Wandella Recreation Reserve will host a game involving the Golden Rivers Football League’s top two teams.
Wandella and Hay will clash tomorrow in the match of the round, with the victor to be on the same number of wins with at least one other side in the top four, depending on results at other venues.
The Bombers were too strong for Macorna last weekend, defeating the former competition leaders by 76 points.
It was a similar situation for the Lions, who recorded a 104-point against Quambatook at home.
Two new recruits will be keys players to each side’s hopes. Wandella coach, Paul Grayling is proving to be a tough task to control for most defenders in the competition, having kicked 19 goals from four game this season.
It is a similar situation for Hay’s Taylor Williamson. The small forward has booted 17 goals in the same period, and whichever side can stop these key players will win.
Hay coach, Simon Bunyan will send Jackson Ferguson down back to stop Grayling – a similar role that helped the Lions break a 10-year drought at Wandella last season, effectively booking the club a finals berth.
Matt Wilkinson or Nick Farley will be best suited to stopping Williamson, who will float between the forward line and midfield.
Daniel Baker will return for the home side after not being available last weekend, setting up an interesting battle with former Tooleybuc/Manangatang midfielder, Michael Dedini.
Wandella defeated the Lions by 20 points in round five last year, with Hay prevailing by 29 points on a wet August day at Wandella 11 weeks later. Another close encounter is on the cards tomorrow.
PREDICTION: Wandella will win by 20 points.
Game to shape ladder
MACORNA and Murrabit will meet tomorrow in clash that will shape the top four going into the second quarter of the season.
The Tigers suffered their first loss of the season last weekend, but remain in the top four alongside three other sides that have a 3-1 record so far this season – Wandella, Hay and Ultima.
The Blues defeated Moulamein by 152 points, increasing its percentage and are well placed to enter the top four with a win at Macorna.
The home side will welcome back Sam Anstey and Anthony Scafidi tomorrow, which will strengthen the midfield.
The pair faces the prospect of taking on Bryden Morison and Matthew Roberts, with the ruck duel between Luke Spalding and the Blues’ Josh Dwyer another key match-up.
If the home side is to win its second home game of the season, Liam Roberts and his fellow defenders will need to prevent Blues coach, Nathan Henry from dominating in front of goal.
The absence of Tigers coach, Wayne Mitrovic will give the visitors hope, but they too will need to contend with a tall forward in their defensive 50 – Brett Collins.
Dain Hayes or Dylan Morison will be asked to stop Collins, with Brett O’Hanlon another player who can be just as dangerous for the home side in front of goal.
The Blues won by 30 points when they last visited Macorna in round seven, 2015, with the Tigers prevailing by 31 points when the sides last met in round 16 last season.
PREDICTION: Macorna will go 4-1 with a 10-point win.
Grand rematch a
QUAMBATOOK faces a must-win game in the first of this season’s grand final rematches.
The winless Saints travel to Ultima needing to win to keep the club’s evaporating finals hopes alive.
Steve Reeves’ men face a number of historic barriers to make the finals if a fifth consecutive loss occurs tomorrow.
The side with the least number of wins to make the finals since 2009 was Murrabit’s team in 2012 – which had a 9-7 record – with Macorna’s nine-game winning streak that season the last time a side came from so far back to qualify for the first semi-final.
It is a different story for the ‘Roos, who produced a second half fightback to win at Nullawil last weekend.
Luke O’Toole turned back the clock to set up the win, and his battle with Saints captain, Gregor Knight will be one of the highlights of the day.
Jacob Schaper – who is continuing on his 2015 form – will battle with Luke Jackson in the midfield, with Nathan Condely to be given the role of shutting down Saints spearhead, Patrick Rattray.
Ash Davis will need to stop Basil Althouse from dominating in front of goal for the home side, with fellow Saints defender, Luke Parker to take on Ryan Devereux.
Qumabatook last defeated Ultima in round 10, 2013, with the two-time reigning premiers winning the last six games against the Saints, including the 2015 grand final by 15 points.
PREDICTION: Ultima will win by 50 points.
Pattern to continue
NULLAWIL will aim to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to Ultima with a percentage-boosting win against Moulamein.
Despite missing a number of the club’s key players, the Maroons pushed the two-time reigning premiers before going down by 18 points.
It was a different story for the Swans, who struggled against Murrabit in a 30-goal loss.
The return of Kal Heslop and Brett Barker at either end of the ground will make things even more difficult for Tony Mudge’s men, who have not defeated the Maroons for eight years.
If an upset result is to occur, Xavia Ellford will need to dominate in the midfield, giving Michael Morson and John Bennett plenty of opportunities to get the ball in the visitors’ forward 50.
However, it is more likely that Heslop, Grant Ford and Scott Mathiske will have a day out, with the pattern of 100-plus point wins against Moulamein continuing for the home side.
PREDICTION: Nullawil will win by 90 points.
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