THE Ballarat versus Redan fixture has all the signs of a fierce rivalry in the making.
And Saturday’s clash will be no different.
Both sides are shaping up as genuine contenders for 2014 and with the interleague match awaiting next week, the winner of this clash will take the enviable 4-1 win-loss ratio into the league bye.
Can Redan extend its streak of seven consecutive wins against the Swans?
Will Ballarat run out four quarters of football, having been outscored 17 goals to just one in the last term in their last three matches?
Swans coach Ash Baker said he did not believe his side’s last quarter fadeouts were a sign of lack of fitness, rather he said it came down to mental attitude.
“It’s got to be mental, we saw in the pre-season and in round one we have the legs to run out games,” Baker said.
“It’s been a big three weeks (meeting North Ballarat City, Darley and Redan) and it would be great to top it off.”
Tom Stapleton will play his first senior game since 2011 after coming back from a knee reconstruction, with captain Mark Cunningham also coming back after being a late withdrawal last week.
James Lukich has been recalled to Bendigo Gold in the VFL, to be replaced by Jackson Hogan, while Liam Youl has also been lost to North Ballarat Roosters.
For Redan, Jack Jess has been promoted to the senior side for the first time this year and is likely to step into the half-back role that was dominated by Nathan Horbury last week, who will return to the Roosters.
Nathan Blomeley also returns, having recovered from a heavy hit to the back two weeks ago.
Nathan Wright will miss with a hamstring injury sustained in last week’s clash against Sunbury, while Ryan Waight and Damien Horbury will again be sidelined.
“I think we took a step forward in the right direction against Sunbury last week,” Gill said.
“We’ve still got a lot of improvement left in us though. But if anyone said at the start of the year we could be heading into the bye sitting at 4-1 you would definitely take it, any club would.
“It’s a really big game for both clubs.”
PREDICTION: Redan in a tight tussle.