Sides vie for early bragging rights

After dusting off the cobwebs last week, the 2022 Steeline Limestone Coast Football Association premiership season continues to build with a big second round this weekend.

Most of the action to watch will be on Sunday afternoon with the men’s and women’s games being back-to-back at Casadio Park and Naracoorte.

The biggest headline act will be in the Senior Women’s competition where International and Blue Lake will contest the grand final rematch from the 2021 season.

Both sides will be vying for the early bragging rights as they brace themselves for another premiership tilt.

Last year the rivals put on plenty of entertaining clashes as they traded blows across the home and away rounds and then in the finals.

Blue Lake (then United) took out the opening clash thanks to a Lauren Frost hat-trick, but by season’s end Inter was a renewed force and it turned the tables with a 3-0 win led by Ella Doody.

Although the black and blue could not back it up in the qualifying final one week later, they rose when it mattered to secure a groundbreaking premiership.

The decider itself was a hair-raising affair where six goals were scored, but the ones of Steph Gilbert made the biggest impact.

Since then, the rivals have faced off once at the preseason carnival last month where Blue Lake prevailed 2-1, but this is the rematch that matters and there will be no holding back upon their return to Casadio Park.

The men’s International and Blue Lake encounter could also be an interesting one.

The Rangers have appeared to have taken a giant leap in 2022 and Millicent was no match last week with a Lae Bae Htoo hat-trick paving the way to a 9-1 win.

But a battle against a quality team like Inter will provide a greater reflection of where Blue Lake sits, because if Andy Armandi’s men do challenge their fancied rivals, the competition will sit up and take notice.

Apollo travels to Naracoorte and coach James Stephenson will eye the road trip as a chance for his sides to bounce back after both the men and women let some tight games slip to Inter.

The Senior Women showed great resolve and surprised a few people to only concede one goal and challenge the reigning premier across the full 90 minutes of play.

With now a raw Naracoorte team fresh from conceding goals on the menu, Apollo will back itself to get its first win of 2022.

The men’s fixture will be a competitive encounter as two teams full of hope also hunt for their first win of the season.

Naracoorte entered the opening round with plenty of hype, but some of that was diminished after losing to reigning premier Gambier Centrals 4-0.

Key defender Gregory Tanga had to be supported off the pitch just before half time and he could be in doubt for the club’s first home game.

Apollo appeared set to open the year with a big win over Inter after a Gay Nay Say Ler penalty gave the blue and white the upper hand.

But the defence could not contain Matt Bueti at the death and the Apollo faithful were forced to watch another game against Inter slip away, heightening the importance of this weekend’s match.

The weekend starts with Millicent hosting Gambier Centrals where the women will take centre stage on Saturday afternoon with the Lions raging favourites after banging 12 goals into the back of the net led by Erin Horsnell.

The men are also licking their lips having accounted for Naracoorte and Jake Blackwell and Sam Shoemark will be determined to put a Millicent defence that conceded nine goals last week under immense pressure.

It could be raining goals after Centrals won 16-0 in the previous encounter at McLaughlin Park.

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