IF LAST week’s clash between North Ballarat City and Ballarat was the most anticipated of the 2014 Ballarat Football League season to date, it is fair to say this match trumps it.
The top two teams will slug it out with first place on the ladder potentially on the line.
Add also the fact that North City has never beaten Redan twice in a row in the one season and it means a bit of spice is added to an already fiery affair.
In a rematch of the one-sided season opener in which North City stamped its authority as the team to beat in 2014, the two league titans will lock horns in the only BFL fixture to actually take place in Ballarat this weekend.
For North, the fixture marks the end of a challenging month that has included a loss in the grand final re-match to Sunbury and another testing clash against third-placed Ballarat.
On the same hand, Redan has faced its own hurdles in the same period, going down to Darley in just its second loss of the year, but defeating Sunbury in an emotion-charged match last week.
This week, the Lions will welcome some key names back into its side, which will be vastly different to the round one side which went down by 76 points.
Chris Giampaolo returns, Joel Mathews will play his first senior game for the year and Bendigo Gold-listed player Jarod Bacon, who has not played this year after breaking his collarbone, will also play his first game in the maroon and gold. However, Brenton Riordan will miss with an ankle injury.
“We haven’t spoken about round one as a playing group, I haven’t even looked at the tape,” Redan coach Eammon Gill said.
“It’s irrelevant really; it’s more about the two or three weeks leading into this one that count.”
For North City, the Jarrod Edwards suspension means there will be at least one forced change,
although the line-up is shaping as fairly similar to last week.
Brendan Howard has not recovered from a hamstring injury while Keenan George will also miss, with Mitchell Johns and Nathan Monk to come into the side.
However, like Gill, Waters said the previous meeting against Redan would have minimal impact on his side this time around.
“We got some confidence knowing we can play well against a top side,” he said.
“We’ve never beaten them twice in a row in one year.
“We will get a really good gauge as to where we are at.”
PREDICTION: North City to all but secure the minor premiership for the year.
NORTH BALLARAT CITY (1st) v REDAN (2nd)
at Eureka Stadium, Saturday, 2.15pm
Last time they met: North Ballarat City 20.9 (129) d Redan 7.11 (53), round 1, 2014.