WEST GAMBIER V MILLICENT
With players either enjoying a weekend off or patching up from a tough SA Country Championships campaign teams will be keen to hit the ground running and build momentum at the start of the final leg of the 2021 Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League minor round season.
With just five rounds left, crunch time is looming with teams searching for their best and none need to find the answer more than West Gambier.
Luck has not been with the Roos in 2021 as injuries have constantly plagued the team since the opening bounce.
The misfortune has started to catch up with Steve Wenman’s men, who have lost their last three games and lost touch with the final four.
West reached a new low in its previous clash against South Gambier where its forward line could only register a meagre nine points across the entire game.
The team can still mathematically make September, but must start winning again against the likes of Millicent and a home clash looms as the perfect opportunity.
Dashing midfielder Lawry Bradley-Brown has carried the team in almost every game and appears untouchable.
He has received strong support from experienced partners Tom Holmes and ruckman Todd Lewis, while Jesse Pfitzner has impressed in the backline.
But their gritty efforts may not be enough to topple a Millicent side at the top of its game.
The Saints are arguably the form team of the competition having knocked off South Gambier and some AFL greats.
Millicent playing coach Clint Gallio has been inspiring, but is just one of many contributors behind the fast-moving side.
The Roos may have won the previous encounter between the rivals, but the Saints have not missed a beat since and should resume their premiership charge.
SOUTH GAMBIER V NORTH GAMBIER
North Gambier hopes the weekend bye can bring South Gambier back to its level at Blue Lake Sports Park in this weekend’s round of Western Border.
The rivals have met twice so far in 2021 and the Tigers have not offered much of a fight on the scoreboard losing by 94 and 41 points.
On both occasions North could not sustain the challenge after quarter time as the Demons’ outside run took flight.
Jack Casey and Brett O’Neil enjoyed big days out, while Kym Eagleson has been prolific inside 50 in those fixtures.
To make matters worse, ladder-leader South might welcome back the services of key forward Brodie Foster and midfielder Bronson Saffin, who have shown strong progress on their returns from injury.
The side should also be fresh with the club’s only Murray South East representative Under 21 player Todd Reid.
The Tigers would have welcomed the bye after their good work against Casterton Sandford and West Gambier was undone by a disheartening loss to East Gambier.
Despite being in the game deep into the second term, North slumped to a 79-point defeat after being beaten in the one-on-one contests.
Declan Kenny and Nick McInerney will be ones to watch in the midfield and are pivotal to the Tigers’ game plan, while Nick Moretti has put his hand up inside 50 alongside coach Justin McConnell.
Sam Stafford has missed the last two games due to a finger injury and will add potency to the forward line if he returns.
But everything points towards to another South landslide win.
CASTERTON SANDFORD V EAST GAMBIER
Casterton Sandford and East Gambier will know each other very well after Saturday when they meet for the second time in as many weeks at Island Park.
Despite falling short again at the final siren, the Cats showed plenty of promise and even led at quarter time.
Diarmid Cleary and Hamish McRae led the charge from the midfield, but the Victorians would like to improve their accuracy in front of goal having missed 10 of 13 shots before half time.
Even though Casterton Sandford struggled to take all of its chances, coach Kane Forbes would be pleased with his side’s progress having compiled its biggest score since round 2.
The Bulldogs co-coaches Matt Willson and Jayden Eldridge may feel even better heading into round 13.
The pair handed over the keys to Derek Ferguson last weekend as they represented the Murray South East in the SA Country Football Championships and the young team did not disappoint in their absence.
Jake Harrap and Brad Rathjen stood tall to lead East to success, while Todd Lockwood will be licking his lips for another trip to Island Park after kicking six majors.
Having learnt their lessons from last week, expect the Cats to defend their home turf with vigour, but the Bulldogs should do the double with Willson and Eldridge back on the team sheet.