BACCHUS MARSH v LAKE WENDOUREE
at Maddingley Park, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST MET: 2016 qualifying final - Cobras 13.13 (91) d Lakers 7.8 (50)
Bacchus Marsh (3rd): 5 wins, 1 loss, 1 bye
Lake Wendouree (1st) 7 wins, 0 losses
Right now Lake Wendouree is the benchmark in the Ballarat Football League.
The unbeaten Lakers earned this billing by dismissing Darley on the road in their latest outing.
If Lake Wendouree is to remain the pacesetter, it has to do it all again against Bacchus Marsh at Maddingley Park on Saturday.
There is no question it was a big challenge to deliver once. Doing it again in the space of a week will be even bigger.
Lakers coach Tim Malone, who remains sidelined with a strained hamstring, has no hesitation in likening it to a mini mid-season finals series.
He said this was exactly what was required in the finals. ”We’ve got to do it again. Anything less and we’ll be beaten.”
Lake Wendouree beat Darley at its own game, using outside pace and stinging rebound football to bring down the Devils. It was this same brand which Darley used to defeat Bacchus Marsh in the opening round.
The Cobras were caught off guard on that occasion, but they will not fall into the same trap again.
Bacchus Marsh coach Travis Hodgson said the Cobras were ready for a big test.
“They’re the form team. They use the football well and they hurt on the turnover.”
Lake Wendouree’s defence was a linchpin in stopping Darley and on top of another enthralling midfield duel, which will see hard-nosed Nick Peters up against Scott Sherlock, it will again be critical to the outcome with the likes of Jarrah Maksymow pitched against Ben Hayes or Isaac Kirby.
Hodgson has been conscious of the need for more avenues to goal and he believes this is gradually coming to fruition.
Bacchus Marsh and Lake Wendouree have each made just the one change.
The Cobras regain ruckman Daniel Burton (knee) after missing a week. He replaces Blake Graham (Western Jets), while Lakers have recalled forward Jack Elkington (hand).
PREDICTION: Bacchus Marsh
BALLARAT v SUNBURY
at Alfredton, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST MET: ROUND 12, 2016 - Lions 16.11 (107) d Swans 9.10 (64)
BALLARAT (7th): more efficient use of the football in attack. This is where coach Shane Hutchinson is looking for significant improvement as the injury-free Swans resume after a bye. “Our general use is okay. We’re getting inside 50m. We just need to finish off our work better.”
SUNBURY (5th): Sunbury has picked up major momentum with three wins in its past four outings, and is favourite for this one. Coach Ben Jordan says belief is growing with every week. The Lions will regain leading goalkicker Ben Said, who was a late withdrawal with illness against Redan, and expects to retain Williamstown VFL-listed ruckman Jayden Eales for a third game, qualifying him for finals.
EAST POINT v SEBASTOPOL
at Eastern Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST MET: round 18, 2016 - Burra 5.8 (38) d Kangaroos 2.12 (24)
EAST POINT (9th): the Kangaroos will take plenty of confidence into this fixture after getting the points against Melton South. With a bye still come, that breathed new life into their season - something they need to now capitalise on. Steve Tung looks like returning after missing two weeks, which will be an added bonus for the up and about young outfit..
SEBASTOPOL (11th): can the Burra turn their fortunes around? It is tough when you are conceding more than 100 points in every game and have managed to kick 10 goals or more just once. No matter how well it plays, Sebastopol is struggling to cope with the speed rivals attack with. The tall Tyler O’Sullivan-Kirchner is back, but it will be another uphill battle.
PREDICTION: East Point
NORTH BALLARAT CITY v MELTON
at Eureka Stadium, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST MET: round 18, 2016 - City 12.6 (78) d Bloods 9.8 (62)
NORTH CITY (10th): coach Jordyn Burke is blunt in summing up the importance of this game with just one win behind it. “We have to win. If we don’t our season’s cooked.” Injuries have hurt and Burke is hopeful that Ryan Luke (knee) and Will Young (knee) will come up and add badly needed experience.
MELTON (8th): the Bloods expect to line up stronger, with coach Brad Murphy expecting Brock McGregor back from Werribee Tigers and leader Jack Walker to be fit after suffering a punctured lung representing the BFL. They are not getting carried away with a badly needed win over Sebastopol and hope to open up City at stoppages.
PREDICTION: North Ballarat City
REDAN v MELTON SOUTH
at City Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm
LAST MET: round 3, 2016 - Lions 19.13 (127) d Panthers 7.7 (49)
REDAN (6th): a massive game for each with the Lions coming off back-to-back losses and the Panthers three defeats in their past four games. There’s still no Orren Stephenson (hamstring/back) and promising youngster Tom Morrish will make his GWV Rebels debut. Damien Horbury’s 150th will have to wait until he returns from overseas. Coach Brendan Peace says there is no doubt the Lions need to lift with a lot on the line.
MELTON SOUTH (4th): with the Panthers’ season also going pear-shaped, they are in desperate need of a win. They have only beaten one team (Sunbury) in the top six and have to improve. They still appear unsettled with right configuration yet to be found despite attacking potency.