Cast/Sand v North Gambier
The Bendigo Bank Western Border Football League will spring back into action this Saturday as players return from a rare week off.
Due to the competition’s recent restructure the WBFL senior side was absent from the Limestone Coast Regional Football Carnival which gave all players an additional rest.
When they lace up their boots again it will mark the start of the final phase of the season and the race for finals is heating up on the field.
The teams with the most to lose and gain are North Gambier and Casterton Sandford, who are in the middle of a fierce fight for third position.
The Tigers clearly hold the ascendancy one win clear of the Cats and West Gambier Roos, but one slip up will bring them back to the pack.
Even though there is not much separating the teams on the ladder, North will be confident of singing the team song come Saturday evening.
The yellow and black completely outclassed the Victorians when they met in round 5 at Vansittart Park.
In a four-quarter performance, the Tigers were able to nullify Casterton Sandford’s physical and contested style in the second half and strolled to a 50-point victory.
Sam Stafford was the hero booting six big ones and the likes of Dylan Ayton, Matt Killey, Tom Foster and Damian Wombwell will be focused on cutting off the forward’s supply.
The ruck contest between North’s Brett Kennedy and Casterton Sandford’s Hamish McCrae will be an intriguing one.
Both sides will be keen to win after suffering defeats to the big teams in recent weeks and re-establish their cases for September.
For the Cats it’s another big chance for them to prove they can challenge the higher-placed teams, while the Tigers are hungry to regain some momentum after back-to-back defeats.
Millicent v East Gambier
Few will forget the previous clash between these two rivals when the football and netball world stopped to celebrate First Nations culture at McDonald Park.
The ceremonies and special Indigenous jumpers may not be present in the return clash, but the same big names will still run out striving for success to start the run home with an important win.
Millicent is the overwhelming favourite with only one defeat while East Gambier has only recorded the one win.
The Saints’ deep squad has proven its ability to win in almost all scenarios and it will be buoyed by memories of overturning a 25-1 quarter time deficient last time they faced the Bulldogs.
Millicent has not skipped a beat since winning every game with its ability to suck opponents in and catch them out with an open forward line paving the way to some big wins.
Coach Clint Gallio said some tough calls could be coming up in the next few weeks, with the likes of himself and Tom Hutchesson missing from the fully-firing team in recent rounds.
“We just expect people to come in and play their role because they understand it,” he said.
“We still have a few blokes sitting out, so that will make it really tricky to pick a team over the next couple of weeks.
“But it is a good position for the club to be in because we have a great understanding of what everyone can do.”
Meanwhile, East has battled to keep up with teams throughout games and hopes the mid-season bye also brought about a change of fortunes.
West Gambier v South Gambier
The West Gambier Roos ensured they skipped into the mid-season break with a spring their step with a tense win over the Bulldogs, but this weekend’s home battle against South Gambier will be a different kettle of fish.
Although the West backline has held strong in recent weeks keeping East and Millicent below 50 points, the challenge of restricting the Demons to the same figure will not be easy.
South is the highest scoring side in the competition being the only team to kick more than 700 points with Brayden Kain, Brodie Foster and many others further up the ground hard to stop.
The Demons are also starting to resemble a full-strength team on the park, but if West wants to not only make finals, but make an impact in September, giving the top teams something to think about now will do those hopes no harm.