Sebastopol's star captain Tony Lockyer is in doubt to play in his side's big-ticket clash with fellow finals hopeful Bacchus Marsh.
Lockyer suffered an ankle injury during the Burra's one-point loss to Ballarat last weekend but was moved to full-forward, where he kicked three goals.
The Burra's leader is no stranger to playing incapacitated.
Lockyer played three matches as a makeshift forward last season before biting the bullet and deciding to have surgery to re-attach his pectoral muscle to the bone.
The Burra are likely to make a late call on Lockyer's fitness with the prospect of a tall-studded Bacchus Marsh line-up making the trip to Marty Busch Reserve.
Cobras' forward Aaron Willitts is finding his feet after an early-season injury and is coming off a four-goal haul last time out.
Bacchus Marsh coach Tom German will likely stick with playing Jake Owen at centre half-back after the move brought the best out of the Cobras captain.
Owen has averaged 19.5 disposals, 10.5 one-percenters, 5.5 intercept marks and four rebound 50s in the past two matches he's started in defence.
Though there's talent at both bookends, the match will be won in the trenches, with Sebastopol and Bacchus Marsh among the leaders in the competition in the blue-collar statistics.
Sebastopol tops the league for clearances (average 45.9 a match), ahead of Bacchus Marsh in third (44.6), and effective tackles (58.1), with Bacchus Marsh, again third (53.5).
The Cobras are slightly in front in contested disposals, averaging 106.6 a match compared to the Burra's 92.9.
A lot of Bacchus Marsh's advantage in that area is down to the dominance of Daniel Burton.
The ruck leads the league with an average of 12 clearances a match while also ranking among the top five for contested disposals (12.13).
Burton will likely enjoy the upper hand again with Sebastopol's first-choice ruck James Richards under an injury cloud after missing the loss to the Swans.
Dean Robertson deputised handily last weekend, finishing with 46 hit outs.
Another exciting match-up looms between two midfield recruits - Bacchus Marsh's Max Eastmure and Sebasopol's Bailey Veale.
Veale has proved one of the league's premier workhorses and ranks in the top six in the competition for clearances (average 8.63), effective tackles (6.63), and total groundball gets (11.13).
Eastmure, still 19, is finding his feet as a hard-at-it onballer, averaging 10.3 contested disposals and 7.3 tackles over his past three matches.
A Sebastopol win would see it move to second, equal on points with Ballarat, who has the bye, while the Cobras need a victory to return to the top six.
at Darley Park, Saturday at 2:15pm
LAST TIME THEY MET: rd 9, 2021 - Lake Wendouree 11.9 (75) d Darley 6.5 (41)
DEVILS (6th, 4-4): Darley has a perfect opportunity to respond against an opponent who suffered a similarly tough loss last weekend. Brett Bewley will enjoy a bit more freedom in the midfield, while Nick Rodda could have a field day against the second-leakiest defence in the competition.
LAKERS (11th, 1-7): It was heartbreak for the Lakers last weekend, losing after the siren, but Jack Fitzpatrick can take some solace from the fact his young group matched it with a bigger, older opponent. The Lakers have a free-hit travelling to Darley and the lack of pressure might suit them well.
at Melton Rec Reserve, Saturday at 2:15pm
LAST TIME THEY MET: rd 9, 2021 - North Ballarat 20.12 (132) d Melton South 7.9 (51)
PANTHERS (9th, 3-6): Melton South could not be better placed to notch its first win at home this season. Last weekend's win was a good confidence boost, and the returns of Dylan Conway and potentially Jake Thornton-Gielen are massive boosts against an opponent that's lost three of its past four matches.
ROOSTERS (5th, 4-4): North Ballarat must start winning matches if it wants to keep its finals fate in its own hands. Cam McCallum has been immense in the ruck for the Roosters but faces his biggest challenge of the season against marquee Panthers recruit Dylan Jones.
PREDICTION: Melton South
at City Oval, Satuday at 2:15pm
LAST TIME THEY MET: rd 6, 2021 - Melton 18.12 (120) d Redan 8.14 (62)
LIONS (7th, 4-4): A win here will do immeasurable things for Redan's confidence. The Lions' cubs will be able to match the pace of Melton's outside mids, but the back six, led by Jacob Werts, will need to be at their best if the hosts want to win. Don't be surprised if Redan deploys Liam Hoy as a spare man down back.
BLOODS (1st, 8-0): The big question hanging over Melton is the impact of the two-week break. The Bloods will be rested and boosted by returning players but may find themselves off the pace. Mark Orr's expected return allows Brett McIntyre to play in defence and combat the big bodies of Lachie George and Clayton Tipiloura.
at Marty Busch Reserve, Saturday at 2:15pm
LAST TIME THEY MET: rd 9, 2021 - Bacchus Marsh 8.7 (55) d Sebastopol 7.7 (49)
BURRA (3rd, 5-3): It sounds counterproductive, but a tight loss last weekend might just add extra steel to an already strong Burra outfit. Sebastopol's midfield has shown it's not shy of the contest and will need to step up again if the hosts want to influence the impact of Cobras superstar Daniel Burton.
COBRAS (8th, 4-4): The week off came at a good time for the Cobras, with key backmen in line to return to marshal the Burra's quick forward line. A win keeps the Cobras in touch with the finals pack, but they need to start winning big. Bacchus Marsh boasts the fourth-worst percentage in the league.
at Clarke Oval, Saturday at 2:15pm
LAST TIME THEY MET: rd 3, 2021 - East Point 13.15 (93) d Sunbury 9.16 (70)
LIONS (10th, 1-7): It could be a long day for the hosts, who are likely to lose most of their best players to VFL commitments. Tyson Lever looms as the key to victory for the battling Lions. The half-back is among the best distributors in the competition but will be given a huge defensive task against the in-form Jordan Johnston.
ROOS (4th, 5-3): Steeled by a heavyweight clash against Darley last weekend, the Roos midfield enjoys a strong advantage against the Lions. Bryson McDougall is coming off a strong performance and could be asked to play a selfless role in the forward line on Tyson Lever.
PREDICTION: East Point
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