REDAN v LAKE WENDOUREE
at Wendouree Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME Lake Wendouree 11.13 (79) d Redan 8.6 (54), round 1
REDAN’S bold move to get its clash with Lake Wendouree in the Ballarat Football League on Saturday moved to Wendouree Reserve highlights one thing.
The Lions are chock-full of confidence and prepared to meet the Lakers, and anyone for that matter, any place any time. Just as it would be in a final.
Redan is obviously not worried about giving Lake Wendouree the home ground advantage – whatever that might be worth.
The Lions have been building better than most. Last time Redan took on Lake Wendouree, way back in round one, the Lions had come off a light pre-season and ran out of legs.
They are now a much stronger unit in fitness and personnel, being extremely close to full strength with Leigh Ryall, Brenton Riordan and Nick Sullivan back. Dean Mathews remains the most important absentee.
This match-up has all the hallmarks of a cut-throat final.
Lake Wendouree is playing for top position. After only as matter of weeks ago seemingly having the minor premiership in their keeping, Lakers will almost certainly lose top position to Bacchus Marsh if they drop this game. They are well aware of this and still having Nathan Pring (ankle), Tom Carey (ankle) and Ben Hayes (hamstring) out does not help their cause.
Lakers coach Gavin Webb said the season had developed into a grind, with almost every match carrying major importance for rivals with either top two, top three or sixth position on the line, and there were signs it had taken a toll.
He said while there was no doubting how good they were at their best, he acknowledged Lakers still needed to get better.
Redan coach Eammon Gill sees the midfield battle being pivotal, with the Lake Wendouree combination of Steve Clifton, Nick Peters and Ben Taylor second to none in the competition.
He said Redan would focus closely on the match-ups in this area.
With less one per cent separating North Ballarat City (third), Redan (fourth) and Sunbury (fifth) – all on 44 points – there has been no more important game for the Lions in their pursuit of a top three finish.
With North Ballarat City and Sunbury hot favourites to win, Redan cannot afford to drop this game.
PREDICTION: Lake Wendouree
EAST POINT v BALLARAT
at Eastern Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Ballarat 12.11 (83) d East Point 9.20 (74), round 2
EAST POINT (9th): Essendon VFL-listed Hayden Walters is the big inclusion in a game in which East's season is potentially on the line. This is his first East Point appearance since 2014 and marks his return after a long-term shoulder injury. His selection comes off four weeks back on the track. Under-18.5 player Mitch Tuddenham has been promoted for his senior debut and the experienced Luke Faull is also back among five changes. The Kangaroos needs this to stay in touch with the top six after two heavy losses. It could come down to confidence and self-belief.
BALLARAT (8th): The Swans suddenly find themselves in finals contention. It is still a long shot, but a second win over East for the year will most likely see them within percentage of the top six with two tough games to come. Ballarat regains youngsters Will Garner and Bailey Van De Heuvel after St Pat's College commitments, as well as Glen Coleman from the North Ballarat Roosters. Ballarat will lay it all on the line.
PREDICTION: East Point
BACCHUS MARSH v MELTON
at Maddingley Park, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Bacchus Marsh 13.11 (89) d Melton 10.5 (65), round 6
BACCHUS MARSH (2nd): the Cobras will be without dynamic onballer/forward Jarrah Maksymow, who is serving a one-match suspension. He will be missed, but back in the fold is Liam Mullen (ankle), who slots into attack, Matt Denham and Kane White. Simon Lafranchi misses because of work commitments. Bacchus Marsh should take the points and could even find itself on top by the day's end. It is difficult to find a weak link at the moment.
MELTON (6th): The Bloods regain some important players - Connor Griffiths, Jordyn Cotter and Malcolm Beck. Coach Brad Murphy is happier with the line-up, but will it be enough against a powerhouse? Probably not. What Melton needs to guard against though is a blow-out, with percentage important in its bid to stay in the top six.
PREDICTION: Bacchus Marsh
MELTON SOUTH v SUNBURY
at Melton Recreation Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Sunbury 23.15 (153) d Melton South 9.7 (61), round 5
MELTON SOUTH (11th): the end of the season just cannot come quickly enough for the Panthers. If they were going to squeeze a win, it had to come against either Sebastopol or Ballarat, but they hardly gave a yelp in either. Playing at home never does any harm, but as Sunbury searches for a higher percentage there is only one result possible here. And sadly this will not be the Panthers.
SUNBURY (5th): like most in the top six, the Lions have fought their way through some bumpy patches to be close to where they want to be. Just about every goal stopped and every goal kicked matters right now and expect this to be one-way traffic. Daniel Toman (Port Melbourne VFL) is in for his all important third game in readiness for finals. Ben Guthrie and Nathan Wood also add depth.
NORTH BALLARAT CITY v DARLEY
at Eureka Stadium, Sunday, 2.15pm
LAST TIME: Darley 12.7 (79) d North Ballarat City 8.13 (61), round 6
N BALLARAT CITY (3rd): coach Jordyn Burke, back from suspension, and Daniel Kilpatrick available again are big returns as the countdown to the finals begins in earnest. Burke is unsure what to expect from the unpredictable Devils and wary after losing last time they clashed. Ultimately that makes no difference, with Burke highlighting that City's mindset is the same each game and that has it sitting third. If they keep getting the contests right, it will be another easy win.
DARLEY (7th): time is running out and this game is unlikely help the Devils' cause. Can they do something special in coach Jarrod Edwards' last hurrah over the closing weeks of the season? Edwards is back with Rhys Ellis among six changes and is always inspirational by his presence alone. It is hard too see Darley getting the better of City in another grand final rematch though.
PREDICTION: North Ballarat City
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