Big BFL season opener with old rivals Redan, North Ballarat City to lock horns again

WIND the clock back to the qualifying final last year, and Redan had just thumped North Ballarat City and was one win away from a Ballarat Football League grand final berth.

Fast forward two weeks and North had exacted sweet revenge and smashed Redan by 70 points, ending the Lions’ season.

Add another week on to that and the premiership cup had black and white ribbons tied around it.

In what has quickly become one of the strongest BFL rivalries, Redan and North Ballarat City will lock horns tomorrow in what promises to be an enticing opener for season 2014.

And making this just that bit spicier is the inclusion of Jarrod Edwards, who is set to play his first game for North against his former club.

Both sides will enter the match with varied line-ups compared to last year’s finals sides, with off-season movements and unavailability causing headaches at selection tables.

For Redan, ruckman Brett Dickinson and midfielder Jarrett Giampaolo are unavailable due to work commitments, while key position player Leigh Ryall will also miss out.

Small forward Mitch Phelps will also be out of action for another three or four weeks with a broken hand.

Lions coach Eammon Gill said although the loss of experienced senior players would hurt, the 22 players he picked would still be strong.

Coming into the side will be off-season recruits Nathan Wright, who will most likely play out of the goal square, as well as Tait Niddrie from South Warrnambool.

Nathan Blomeley will also play his first game for the maroon and gold since 2011.

Not fazed by coming up against the reigning premiers, Gill said a solid showing was almost as important as a win.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, getting a good performance in round one sets the tone for the season,” he said.

For North Ballarat City, ruckman Tristan Cartledge is a 90 per cent chance to play, according to coach Rob Waters, having recovered from a broken hand.

Former North Ballarat Rooster Marcus Darmody is overseas, Ryan Luke is suspended and Marc Greig has coaching duties with the Roosters.

Waters said captain Jason McNamara was also battling leg soreness, and was not named in last night’s side.

PREDICTION: North Ballarat City too good.

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