LAKE WENDOUREE v REDAN
at CE Brown Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Lakers 13.16 (94) d Lions 14.5 (89)
STANDINGS – LAKE WENDOUREE (2nd): 12 wins, 2 losses, 1 bye
REDAN (3rd): 11 wins, 3 losses, 1 bye
Redan has the toughest run of all to the Ballarat Football League finals.
The Lions meet the cream of the crop in their remaining two home and away assignments.
They run into second-placed Lake Wendouree on Saturday and then after a bye tackle pacesetter Bacchus Marsh.
Redan has not for the first time almost snuck under the radar this season – working itself in third position and in the running for a top two finish.
The Lions have dropped just the three games, but significantly these have included losses to Lakers and the Cobras.
So these upcoming outings will provide a strong guide as to where Redan is in the premiership race.
Lake Wendouree will also better understand how it is travelling.
Lakers coach Tim Malone said he rated Redan highly – right up with Bacchus Marsh and this was a match-up he was looking forward to.
He said the rivals were not unlike, being physically strong and focused on a contested football brand of game.
Lake Wendouree goes into the home game close to full strength. Ben Hayes returns from suspension and Lachlan O’Connell has been recalled to bolster the backline.
Nathan Pring and Tom Littore will also be better for hit-outs against Sebastopol. It was Pring’s first back after a hamstring injury and Littore first for the year after a knee reconstruction last season.
Redan is a much different proposition with several first choice players still out, including captain Liam Hoy, who is a huge loss this week.
Coach Brendan Peace, who is back though after hamstring for just his fifth game of the season, said Hoy had been feeling sore and was being rested.
He said with the bye next week, this would give him two weeks off and an opportunity to freshen for the run into the finals.
VFL-listed Josh Webster is also a loss, while Jarrett and Chris Giampaolo and Ben Schiltz are still missing.
In: L. O'Connell, B. Hayes
Out: N. Fraser, Sam Clifton
In: T. Morrish, J. Baker, B. Peace
Out: J. Webster, L. Hoy, T. Douglass
PREDICTION: Lake Wendouree
SEBASTOPOL v BALLARAT
at Marty Busch Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 5 - Swans 15.16 (106) d Burra 12.11 (83)
SEBASTOPOL (11th): the Burra will climb off the bottom of the ladder with victory. Earlier in the year Sebastopol jumped the Swans by a big margin and had every opportunity to win. It was one that got away. With Bacchus Marsh and Sunbury to come, this is Sebastopol's last chance to get a second win. Expect the likes of Toby Hutt, Geoff Lovett, Marshall Cain and Ryan Noether, as well as Harli Givvens near goal, to put the Burra in a winning position at some stage.
BALLARAT (10th): leading goalkicker Nick O'Farrell returns after missing with illness and Mitch Bishop will have a run in a break for the GWV Rebels. The thought of slipping to last does not sit comfortably with Shane Hutchinson, but it comes after nine defeats in a row and there will be a real desire to turn. The Swans have to go back to last time they played Sebastopol to their latest win.
In: L. Huppatz, B. Trew, C. Jeffrey
Out: L. Noether, C. Snowden, R. Henderson
In: M. Bishop, N. O'Farrell
Out: T. Conroy, J. Leonard
DARLEY v SUNBURY
at Darley Park, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 3 - Devils 10.13 (73) d Lions 11.6 (72)
DARLEY (4th): it is backs to the wall for an out-of-form and undermanned Darley. This is how coach Heath Scotland sees it after a 64-point loss to Bacchus Marsh. He said it was time to roll up the sleeves and see who was prepared to put in the work. On top of Chris Graham (suspended) being out, the Devils lose Brian Graham (Essendon VFL), skipper Shane Page (calf) and assistant coach Dan Roy (eye/cheek).
SUNBURY (5th): the Lions have an opportunity to make a statement ahead of finals. A win over the Devils would provide momentum, but coach Ben Jordan is also mindful of ensuring players are the best possible condition for the finals. Dwain Sanderson is available after a four-week suspension and Reece Woods (ribs) is okay to go, but the Lions will be without Ben Said (knee) and Nathan Wood (hand), who looks to be finished for the year. Key defender Adam Short (groin) is still out.
In: D. Edwards, M. Young, T. Minns,
Out: B. Graham, S. Page, D. Roy
In: D. Sanderson, R. Wood, G. Valles
Out: B. Said, J. Bygate, B. Mundy
EAST POINT v MELTON
at Eastern Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: round 10 - Bloods 11.10 (76) d Kangaroos 9.14 (68)
EAST POINT (6th): East Point needs to get back on track after back-to-back losses leading into a bye. There's no doubt the Roos have improved since the start of the year, but by how much will be revealed in three testing weeks. East is placed to have control of its own destiny and must capitalise on this.
MELTON (9th): it is all or nothing for the Bloods, with their season on the line. Lose and it is goodbye finals. Four losses in a row has not helped their cause - East Point is the last team Melton beat - but coach Brad Murphy was encouraged by the effort against Sunbury. Melton successfully shut down Sunbury, but could not do the required damage on the scoreboard. Skipper Jake Gleeson, Ryan Davis, Brock McGregor and Blake Souter return, with Murphy confident the Bloods can again get on top with run and by spreading East out of its comfort zone.
In: S. Tung, B. Watkins, J. Payne,
Out: J. Draffin, A. Stevenson, J Watkins
In: T. Button, R. Carter, J. Gleeson
Out: N. Wallace, L. Martin, K. Wilson
PREDICTION: East Point