SHEPP UNITED V SHEPP SWANS
This is an intriguing match-up between cross-town rivals desperate to chalk up early wins.
Both had vastly different outcomes in the opening round of the season.
Shepparton United caused what many would agree was an upset win over arch rival Shepparton while Shepparton Swans was gallant in defeat against the more fancied Mooroopna.
Skipper Kyle Clarke led by example for the Demons in their victory and he will be important again against the Swans off half-back.
Clarke accumulated 19 possessions, including seven contested and five intercepts.
Boom recruit Jayden Magro was outstanding with four goals and 15 contested possessions from his 20 disposals. He also had six inside 50s.
The returning Fergus Pinnuck (30 possessions), Joel Serra (12 clearances) and utility Mitchell Roche were others to fire in the win over the Bears while twin towers Damon Carroll and Sean Thompson shared in 57 hit outs, ensuring the Dees midfield were able to take advantage of their dominance.
The Swans will look to the experienced Quade Johnstone to lead by example.
He had 102 ranking points, accumulated from his 16 possessions.
Vice-captain, Andrew Riordan was an important player for the Swans last weekend.
His experience will be important and his direction is likely to help the youngsters in Zac Banch (20 disposals at 95 per cent and 10 clearances), James Auld (22 disposals at 77 per cent) and Tyreece Collison.
The Swans’ midfield group are going to have work hard given the ruck dominance they gave up to Mooroopna last weekend, with its ruckman having a tough night at the office.
Tip: Shepp United.
TATURA V MANSFIELD
Tatura faces another big challenge when it comes up against last year’s preliminary finalist.
The Bulldogs were comprehensively beaten by Echuca.
And coach Paul Barnard will be hoping his team doesn’t give up large chunks of goals.
Last weekend, the Bulldogs gave up seven second quarter goals and then eight last quarter goals in the loss to the reigning premier Echuca.
Mansfield coach Chad Owens will be eager to address giving up goals as well.
The Eagles gave up seven third quarter goals in the narrow loss to Euroa last week at home.
Cameron Arnold was outstanding for the Eagles in the loss.
More than 50 per cent of his disposals were contested and he kicked 4 goals from his eight scoring shots.
Sam Thomson likes the contested game.
He gathered 11 disposals, with 8 of them contested and he managed to kick three goals from his shots on goal.
Ben Les, Harry Mahoney (29 disposals/11 contested) and Cody George will be important for the visitors as they look to break their duck for 2023.
Chris Ryan put together a strong game, accumulating 82 ranking points.
New recruit Daniel Weetra showed his worth and that he will be good player for the Dogs while Mitchell Elliott, Brodie Meyers and Matt Rennie all worked tirelessly to ensure their team took it up to the Murray Bombers.
For the Dogs to win they will need everything to go right for them.
MOOROOPNA V SHEPPARTON
Shepparton will be looking to bounce back when it takes on Mooroopna under lights.
The Bears suffered an upset defeat at the hands of United last weekend and co-coaches Ted Lindon and Xavier Stevenson will be looking for a response from their team.
On paper, the Bears look more than formidable, but as we know that means very little unless you chalk up victories.
Mitchell Brett was the standout for his team last week, collecting 27 disposals at 74 per cent.
Bryce Stephenson worked tirelessly in the ruck, with 14 hit outs and 12 disposals.
Youngster Connor Fleming continues to flourish with the more game time he gets while boom recruit Adam De Cicco showed his worth with 22 disposals at 81 per cent, nine clearances and 143 ranking points.
Jed Woods was the standout for the Cats in their grinding win over the Swans.
Jed had 18 disposals, including eight of those contested.
Boom recruit Bryce Rutherford didn’t disappoint in his Cats’ debut.
He is one of my tips to win the Morrison Medal in 2023.
Rutherford gathered 26 possessions, including 10 contested and eight clearances.
Ruckman Liam Betson (44 hit outs) was dominant for the Cats and he will again look to dominate to ensure his midfield group gets first use.
Ben Woods and Jackson Trengove (three goals) and Ethan Hunt (36 possessions and 133 ranking points) will be others important if the Cats are to bank another win.
SEYMOUR V ROCHESTER
Seymour will look to make it back-to-back wins to start 2023 when it welcomes first round loser Rochester.
The Tigers were gallant in defeat in round one at home against Kyabram while Seymour did what it had to do to get past an improved Benalla.
Lions coach Ben Davey knows his team has plenty of room for improvement after allowing the Saints back into the contest in the second half after getting the jump on them, kicking the opening five goals of the contest.
While, Tigers mentor Ash Watson will be looking to see how his team can improve on their 30 inside 50s against the Bombers.
Lachlan Waite was very good for the Lions, kicking three goals from his 13 disposals. He also had seven contested possessions and took eight marks.
Ben Cooney, Michael Hartley (25 disposals), Rory Scopel and Jack O’Sullivan were outstanding for the Lions in the win.
If they can continue that form then the Tigers will find it tough to go the distance with the Lions.
Defender, Matt Kellett, centreman Joseph Atley (33 disposals, including 11 contested, running defender Blake Evans (29 disposals), full back Hamish Hooppell and ruckman Charlie Palmer will be all important for the visitors if they are to challenge the Lions.
KYABRAM V ECHUCA
This should be a cracking contest under the lights at Kyabram.
The two best teams of the past two completed seasons, with the home team last winning a flag in 2019 and the Murray Bombers ended a long drought to claim last year’s crown in a thriller over Euroa.
Kyabram had to work really hard to shake off the challenge of Rochester last weekend.
Coach Paul Newman was thrilled with many aspects on their game, especially their tackling and pressure.
Youngster Anthony DePasquale was the star.
He had 23 possessions, nine of those contested, took nine marks and kicked four goals from his eight attempts on goal.
The youngster knows if he gets that many chances against Echuca then he will need to make the most of them.
Ruckman Zachary Norris won the ruck battle against his Rochester opponents and his battle with Kane Morris could determine which way this contest goes.
New recruit Reuben Rode was brilliant off a wing, while midfielder Kaine Herbert continues to relish at GV level, collecting 35 disposals including six clearances and Brad Whitford was strong in collecting 21 possessions.
Hard-nosed midfielder Sam Willoughby was brilliant for Echuca, winning 17 contested possessions and nine clearances in his 24 disposals.
Co-coach Sam Reid was outstanding for the reigning premier, accumulating 33 possessions to amass 160 ranking points.
Matthew Lias (26 disposals & 8 clearances), Andrew Walker (33 disposals, 14 contested and nine clearances) and Will Monahan (18 possessions, 9 marks and three goals) will be others that will be vital as the Murray Bombers look to try and continue their recent good form over its Campaspe Shire rival.
EUROA V BENALLA
This promises to be interesting match-up.
Euroa is expected to be in the race for the premiership this year while Benalla is expected to improve with the inclusion of some returning premiership players.
Pies coach Scott Rowan will know that there is room for improvement after last week’s first-up success over Mansfield.
They were missing a few from their best team that took them so close to last year’s title.
But that gave opportunity to others.
Ruckman Andrew Smith continued where he left off from last year.
He was easily in the top echelon of players in 2022 and he showed that on grand final day.
Smith had 43 hit outs and gathered six clearances to go with his 14 possessions last week.
Former Carlton and Western Bulldogs wingman Will Hayes was brilliant in his return to his home club.
Hayes gathered 31 possessions, including 5 clearances along with three goals.
His performance is sure to be one of many that sees him poll votes.
He is my other tip for this year’s Morrison Medal.
Andrew Bell, Jett Trotter (three goals) and Jake Penman were others to shine for the Pies in their win over Mansfield.
One player who is sure to dominate off half-back once he finds his feet is the brother of Scott Pendlebury – Ryan.
His class, disposal efficiency and big game experience will be vital come September for the Pies.
Benalla will look to Wade King, Nick Mellington (12 contested possessions and 5 clearances), Jarrad Waite, Joshua Marchbank (44 hit outs), Charlie McCarthy and Josh Mellington (4 goals from his six kicks and three marks) to continue their form for the Saints to be a chance of causing an upset.