EAST POINT V BACCHUS MARSH
(min cost $8)
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at Eastern Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
EAST Point coach Glenn Wilkins has run out of patience and swung the changes in what could be a season-defining match against Bacchus Marsh in the Ballarat Football League on Saturday.
While it is not make-or-break yet, East Point cannot afford to lose a third straight game to kick off the season.
The early fortunes of the Kangaroos and Cobras could hardly be more contrasting.
Eager to improve on fifth last year, East Point has let tight matches against North Ballarat City and Ballarat slip through its fingers.
At the other end of the scale Bacchus Marsh has got away to flyer under new coach Travis Hodgson.
The Cobras began with victory over Sunbury and then made the whole competition sit up and take notice by annihilating the reigning premier by 73 points. Not even Bacchus Marsh expected that.
As concerned as Wilkins was immediately after the Ballarat loss, his worries escalated further after the Cobras' cut loose in the Marsh Derby.
He told his players there would be changes and did not hold back at the selection table on Thursday.
Of the seven changes East Point made, Jason Delaney and Toby Boyle are compulsory. Wilkins said Delaney would miss four to six weeks with medial ligament damage, while Boyle might be out up to six weeks with a broken wrist.
East Point has included Jono Lanyon from the North Ballarat Roosters, last year's leading goalkicker Brent Fitzpatrick off an interrupted pre-season, Chris Banwell, Drew Murphy, Josh Draffin, Lachie Thornton and Sam Romeril.
The Roosters have a bye in the VFL and released five players back to BFL clubs for this round.
"It's a big game," Wilkins said. "They're the form side."
Wilkins said although East Point could easily have won each of its games, the fact that it had not meant too many players were not playing to the required level.
"It's time to draw a line in the sand."
Hodgson has made no secret of the fact that he is using Bacchus Marsh's winning drought at the Eastern Oval as part of the motivation to make it three wins on end. The Cobras, who will be without Werribee's Quade Butt, have not beaten East at the ground for more than 10 years.
PREDICTION: Bacchus Marsh
DARLEY v SUNBURY
at Darley, Saturday, 2.15pm
DARLEY: Coach Jarrod Edwards and Rhys Ellis make welcome returns after hamstring strains as the Devils look to bounce back from an unexpected massive loss to Bacchus Marsh. Coming off a bye, the reigning premier did not see it coming. Edwards said everyone had been shattered by the performance. "We're going to have to be a lot better than that." He said it had been a massive week ensuring Darley was back on track.
SUNBURY: Injuries and suspension are going to make the Lions' task tougher than it would have liked. They have lost captain Andrew Duhau (calf), James Rizk (leg), Jess Flannery (concussion) and ruckman David Kovacevic to a one-match suspension after he took a set ban for rough conduct against Melton's Jack Walker.On the plus side, Roger Allen from the Sunbury Kangaroos will make his debut for the club.
REDAN v MELTON SOUTH
at City Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
REDAN: The Lions play the first of four consecutive home games and will begin the sequence with their first win of the season. Do not be too fooled by the winless record. Redan could easily have been undefeated and as one of the more experienced line-ups. North Ballarat Roosters youngster Tom Scherring and recruit Dan Watson make their debuts, while Grant Bell (hamstring), Leigh Ryall (hand) and Dean Chester (ill) out.
MELTON SOUTH: There has not been much for the Panthers to get excited about. They have hardly fired a shot in three games, although they manage to hit the scoreboard with more regularity before being run over by Sebastopol. Melton South focused on putting games into youngsters last season. It looks like more of the same again.
SEBASTOPOL v MELTON
at Marty Busch Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
SEBASTOPOL: The Kookaburras return home on a high in pursuit of a Melton clean sweep. This time it is the Bloods. Unfortunately for the Burra it will be without star player and leader Michael Powell. He strained a hamstring for the second time this year against Melton South and coach Shane Snibson expects him to be missing for five to six weeks. Mitchell Jolly is also out with a shoulder injury.
MELTON: This assignment shapes up much tougher than it might have appeared pre-season with Sebastopol developing greater self-belief. It is a game that the Bloods need to win though if they are to build the foundation for an improved showing this season. Melton has a solid top end, but their fortunes will rest with how well their bottom half performs - especially in winnable matches like this.
LAKE WENDOUREE v BALLARAT
at Wendouree, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAKE WENDOUREE: Boom recruit Nick Peters is a massive out, having had surgery on a fractured hand on Thursday. The Lakers will have the services of North Ballarat Roosters youngster and former Bendigo Pioneer Bailey Edwards for his debut and Isaac Kirby, who returns from suspension. Coach Gavin Webb said coming off a bye this was like starting all over again, but the Lakers were ready
BALLARAT: The Swans must still be pinching themselves. Unbeaten in two games. While their opening assignment against Sebastopol was no surprise, beating East Point was. Now there is an even bigger test against the Lakers, fresh from a bye. This will truly define Ballarat. The Swans will miss Brad McDonald, but have been bolstered by Liam Youl and Tom Templeton from the Roosters and regain Corey Grills from the sidelines.
PREDICTION: Lake Wendouree
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