Swans and North City in crucial Sunday showdown

IT IS a big call, but this game could go down as Ballarat’s most important match for the season.

North Ballarat City’s Jayden Orr tries to fend off a tackle against Ballarat. Picture: Lachlan Bence

North Ballarat City’s Jayden Orr tries to fend off a tackle against Ballarat. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Coming up against reigning champions North Ballarat City on a standalone Sunday fixture, it is a match that could prove crucial for a number of reasons for the Swans.

Not only is North City the only side to dominate Ballarat this season (their other loss was by just six points to Redan), a win would all but ensure a double-chance come finals time with a top three finish.

In the last meeting between these two sides, North City booted six goals to nil in the final quarter to run away 53-point winners in round three.

Ballarat coach Ash Baker said his side was dealt a lesson in fitness that night, but the Swans have come a long way since.

“Things have changed a fair bit since then, for both sides,” Baker said.

“They are the side to beat, no doubt. They’re the top side and have been for a fair while.”

The Swans will be without a genuine ruckman for the day, with Sam Conroy playing for North Ballarat Roosters again and Travis Hoyle unavailable.

Instead, the rucking duties are likely to be shared between Rex Hickman, James Lukich and Chris Prockter.

Victoria Country representative Liam Youl and the experienced Will McGregor will be welcomed inclusions back into the side.

For North Ballarat City, coach Rob Waters said his side was gradually edging closer to getting a full list together.

Ryan Hobbs, arguably the league’s best defender, returns from a knee injury, while Jarryd Graham also comes into the side.

Brendan Howard will also be forced to watch on from the sidelines, not taking any precautions with a hamstring strain, while Josh Bromley-Lynch is also missing.

“It’s going to be a big match that’s for sure. Being a Sunday, every man and his dog will be there,” North City coach Rob Waters said.

“There’s four points on the table and we obviously want to win it.”

PREDICTION: North City to end Ballarat’s winning streak, but only just.

patrick.nolan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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