BACCHUS MARSH v MELTON SOUTH
at Maddingley Park, Saturday, 2.15pm
BACCHUS MARSH: 5th (1 win, 1 loss, 1 bye)
MELTON SOUTH: 1st (3 wins, 1 loss, 1 bye)
LAST MET: round 12, 2016 – Bacchus Marsh 22.17 (149) d Melton South 5.6 (36)
Reigning premier Bacchus Marsh comes off an extended break to re-start its Ballarat Football League title defence against the up and going Melton South at Maddingley Park on Saturday.
While the Panthers have already had four outings to lead the competition, the Cobras have been on the park just twice.
Coming off a bye and the inter-league break, it is virtually a new beginning for Bacchus Marsh.
Despite the interrupted opening to the season, Cobras coach Travis Hodgson is more than comfortable where they sit after a loss to a hot Darley and win over last year's grand final opponent Sunbury.
“We’re looking to play a high intensity game.”
Hodgson said the Cobras had managed to produced this brand of football in each outing, but unfortunately been beaten at their own game by Darley first-up.
Where he is looking for improvement though is in attack, where Bacchus Marsh needs more key avenues to goal than Jarrah Maksymow.
Captain Tyson Shea returns after being unavailable in round two, but Lachlan Phyland (finger) is still one to two weeks away from returning.
Hodgson said there was a lot at stake in this game, with each team wanting to stamp their authority.
“There’s still a lot of the unknown about Melton South, but there’s no doubt they can play a lot better than they have shown so far.
Melton South joint coach Sean Triplett said playing the reigning was the ultimate test.
Triplett said the Panthers needed to lift. “We need to execute better and be much more efficient.”
Triplett was referring in particular to its work in attack, where Melton South has been particularly wasteful and been unable to make the most of the midfield work of Mark Lynch and Nick Kommer.
Tayte Pears (ankle) is back from an ankle injury, while Matt Notman (calf) will have until match day to prove his fitness.
PREDICTION: Bacchus Matrsh
MELTON v LAKE WENDOUREE
at MacPherson Park, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 11, 2016 - Lake Wendouree 10.19 (79) d Melton 12.3 (75)
MELTON (6th): the Bloods declared their season was back on track with a season opening win over Ballarat.
If this statement is to stand up Melton needs to beat Lakers and that means playing to its optimum.
However, it will not be easy. It is still without skipper Jake Gleeson (concussion) and has lost Jack Walker (ribs) and Dyson Stevens, who starred against the Swans, back to Northern Blues in the VFL.
LAKE WENDOUREE (2nd): "patchy" - this is how coach Tim Malone described the unbeaten Lakers at the moment.
They are getting the job done, but not as well as he says they will need to keep their record intact in coming weeks.
Lake Wendouree gets the lively Luke Bucknall (ankle) back, while Nick Peters (ribs) who missed the BFL's clash with Bendigo is right to play.
PREDICTION: Lake Wendouree
REDAN v BALLARAT
at City Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 18, 2016 - Redan 21.10 (136) d Ballarat 7.4 (46)
REDAN (4th): coach Brendan Peace could not be happier with the way the Lions - so much so he will continue to keep his comeback from knee surgery on hold.
He said with the team going strongly there was no point in him rushing back.
Redan's personnel also remains bolstered by North Ballarat Roosters' listed youngsters Nick Hausler, Gus Cleary and Keenan Waterbury, who are proving a real bonus for the red-hot Lions, and possibly Orren Stephenson.
BALLARAT (7th): The Swans regain young ruckman Bailey Van De Heuvel after he was unavailable for the loss to Melton. His return will free up Marcus Powling to start as a big target in attack - something Ballarat needs.
Ballarat had its chances against the Bloods, but as coach Shane Hutchinson predicted at the start of the year his young charges are going to have ups and downs, and they were unable to build on a promising start against a well-drilled Bloods line-up.
This shapes as Ballarat's biggest assignment to date.
SEBASTOPOL v DARLEY
at Marty Busch Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 9, 2016 - Sebastopol 8.10 (58) d Darley 5.18 (48)
SEBASTOPOL (10th): what a day it was when these last clashed, with the Burra upsetting the then reigning premier in the mud at home. This time though they meet on a perfect deck.
Coach Shane Snibson has Sebastopol playing a promising brand of football, but inexperience and not enough physical strength will again see it struggle - especially with Brett Goodes (calf) still not right.
North Ballarat Roosters-listed Lochie Huppatz will debt after having his season delayed by a finger injury.
Huppatz is from Portland and played with North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup last year.
DARLEY (3rd): The Devils will be without key forward Kyle Docherty, who will serve a one-match suspension, and dangerous Geelong VFL-listed running forward Leigh Spiteri (groin).
However, they do regain Chris Graham back from suspension and Matt Inglis, who missed their one-point win over Sunbury with ankle soreness.
Coach Heath Scotland said the return of players meant his stocks were improving all the time and there were plenty of options to help cover any losses.
SUNBURY v EAST POINT
at Clarke Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 10, 2016 - East Point 12.9 (81) d Sunbury 10.17 (77)
SUNBURY (9th): the Lions have frustratingly played much better than their record of 1-3 indicates. Close losses to Melton South and Darley could easily have delivered premiership points, but there can be no excuses.
This just highlights where they are and it will not be helped by the loss of inter-league defender Adam Short (hamstring) and Allan O'Connor (unavailable).
Sunbury must win this and should. It has had a stable line-up, with newcomers and potent forwards Ben Said and Alec Goodson excellent additions, and ready to ensure the Lions are rewarded.
EAST POINT (11th): the Kangaroos have like Sunbury shown some promising glimpses, but their hardest task is finding consistency. Clay Bilney, Daniel Semmens, Daniel Tung, Rhys Monument and Drew Murphy are among the players who have enabled them to push Lake Wendouree and share the points with Ballarat.
Coach Jake Bridges knows he has work to do with a developing group and that getting an opening win here is a possibility - especially on a ground where East has an excellent record.