THE atmosphere at Frankston Oval is generally a little festive – the conga drum, trumpet and friendly-looking Dolphin mascot enhance the seaside location that even on a cold day, as is expected tomorrow, it feels a little like a holiday party.
But it will be far from festive on the field.
Frankston and North Ballarat Roosters will enter a massive battle that could make or break their Victorian Football League campaigns.
Both sit outside the top eight on percentage to Northern Blues – the Selkirk Roosters are slightly ahead in ninth spot – among a backlog of teams fighting to claim ninth spot.
The stand-alone Dolphins have built impressive momentum after battling near the ladder bottom so long, while the Roosters are starting to create trouble after patchy play at the season’s start.
Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said there were lots of similarities. The Roosters must find an edge.
“The more I look at it, the bigger the game gets,” FitzGerald said.
“(Frankston coach) Simon Goosey puts a lot of faith in his particular method and is well respected for that and what he’s trying to achieve.
“We have our methods too, and that’s what I really love about the competition – Frankston is unique to us and we have our own uniqueness.”
The midfield is set for an exciting battle with high-quality Dolphin ball-winners Leigh Kitchin, Shane Hockey and Luke Potts up against the Roosters’ tough combination of Liam Anthony, Myles Sewell, Steve Clifton, Lachie George and young Rebels captain Matt Crouch, who has been thrown into the mix for his VFL debut as 23rd man.
Russell Gabriel, established for a couple of seasons now as the Dolphins number one ruck, should form a good, honest duel with developing Rooster Ben Mabon.
FitzGerald said the bottom line was that this was a must-win match.
It is the first match of a final six-match phase to finish the home-and-away season.
The Roosters have group and individual challenges to bounce back and perform better than they did against Geelong at Simmonds Stadium a fortnight ago.
They trained solidly all week and are encouraged to rest their legs today to ensure they are ready to try to silence the conga drum at Frankston.