KYABRAM V SHEPPARTON
Shepparton is staring down the barrel of a 0-3 start to the 2023 season if it can’t find its mojo against the 2019 premier.
The Bombers are 1-1 after going down to Echuca last week.
That said, coach Paul Newman took some positives out of the loss.
He will be hoping that his Bombers can make their home ground a fortress despite the loss to the reigning premier.
Premiership defender Lachlan Smith is like a fine bottle of red.
He gets better with age.
Smith can bounce from defence to attack if the Bombers are in need of a goal.
Brad Whitford, Zachary Norris, Kaine Herbert and Rhys Clark will be others that Newman looks too to keep the visiting Bears at bay.
Co-coach Ted Lindon will be hoping his Bears can put together four strong quarters.
They have shown glimpses of what they are capable of in the losses to Shepparton United and Mooroopna, but unless they fire for the full 100 minutes they were lose again.
Bryce Stephenson, Tyler Bell, Izac Artavilla, Xavier Stevenson and Mitchell Brett will need to continue their good form for the Bears to be a chance of breaking their duck.
BENALLA V TATURA
Benalla and Tatura will be searching for their first win when they do battle in the Rose City.
The Saints were more than competitive on the opening day of the season while it struggled against premiership favourite Euroa last start.
The Bulldogs bounced back strongly and went within 10 points of causing an upset over Mansfield last weekend after losing to the reigning premier Echuca on the opening day of the season.
Benalla will look to bring the form of the second half versus Seymour while Tatura hopes to bring the form of last week where it pushed the Eagles.
Tatura coach Paul Barnard will be reminding his midfielders of the importance of winning the clearances to minimise the pressure to its back six as they try to combat Josh Mellington, Jarrod Waite and Brody Webster.
For those forwards to get first use, then the likes of Tom Bennett, Jordan Wolff, Tom O’Brien, James Martiniello and Jayden Guppy need to win plenty of the football.
But Ethan Penrith will have plenty to say about that as the gun midfielder looks to continue his strong form.
Penrith will be hoping to get support from Harley McCarthy (three goals), Beau O’Connell, Brodie Meyers and Michael Archer to ensure the Bulldogs end up in front at the final siren.
ROCHESTER V ECHUCA
Rochester faces a big challenge as it looks to break its duck in 2023.
The reigning premier still looks one of the teams to beat.
The Tigers are one of the youngest teams in the competition and very much a local team – accumulating only 23 points from its allocated 42 in last week’s loss to the Lions.
Coach Ash Watson has no doubt simplified the game plan for the young Tigers.
That said, Joseph Atley, Mitch Cricelli, Jacob Atley, Nicholas O’Connor and Hamish Hooppell are leading the way and if the others can follow their lead, then they will be competitive every week.
Logan Prout, Sam Willoughby, Andrew Walker, Liam Tenace and Mitchell Wales will look to continue their good form for the Murray Bombers.
The Murray Bombers’ are likely to have much firepower and class right across the ground to drop the four points to the Tigers.
SHEPPARTON SWANS V MANSFIELD
The visit of Mansfield to Princess Park means more than the four points for the Shepparton Swans.
It marks the return of competitive football for the first time since last October following the devastating floods in Greater Shepparton, which impacted Princess Park.
The Swans are an interesting unit.
It is too early to form an opinion on where they will finish in 2023.
But one thing is for sure, is they will give as good as they get.
They are likely to make a couple of changes to the team that defeated United due to a couple of players going down with injury.
Jamie Macmillan, Andrew Riordan, Tom Preece, Nathan Rachele (five goals), Ty Sutherland and Kurt Dixon (3 goals) will be important if the home team is to match the bigger and more physical Mansfield.
Lachlan Murphy-Dale, Daniel Leggett, Tom McDonagh, Harry Mahoney, Jayden Howes, Cam Arnold (three goals) and Ben Christopher (three goals) will be looking to try and make it two wins on the bounce after escaping the kennel last weekend with a narrow win.
SEYMOUR V EUROA
What a match these looms for two of the league’s unbeaten teams.
Euroa has claimed wins against Mansfield and Benalla while the Lions have pushed past Benalla and Rochester.
But Seymour coach Ben Davey would be the first to admit that his team has plenty of improvement in them.
Former AFL player Michael Hartley, Ben Cooney, William Brock, Lachlan Waite (four goals) and Huw Jones will be important for the home team.
Davey may need to put a tag on gun Euroa midfielder Will Hayes.
Hayes has been a star since his return to the Pies.
Jacob Gleeson, Adam Giobbi, Matthew Ivill and Jett Trotter (four goals) have been others to fire and will look to continue that good form at Kings Park today.
SHEPPARTON UNITED V MOOROOPNA
Mooroopna will look to make it three wins on the bounce when it travels to Deakin Reserve to take on United.
The Demons will be without its two ruckman Sean Thompson (knee) and Damon Carroll (shoulder) for an extended period.
This is going to give Cats ruckman Liam Betson a huge advantage coupled with the midfield of the visitors.
Jayden Magro (five goals), Fergus Pinnuck, Kyle Clarke, Joel Serra and Adam Pigatto will need to fire for the Demons to be able to match the Cats.
Cats coach John Lamont would be the first to admit that his team is yet to fire on all cylinders.
They were pushed by both the Swans and Bears.
Ethan Hunt, Ben Hicks, Jed Woods, Jackson Trengove (three goals) and Christopher Nield (three goals) will be important for the Cats as they look to remain undefeated.