SHEPPARTON V BENALLA
This will be an interesting match-up for a variety of the reasons.
Shepparton is just going despite having higher expectations for the season and the two wins would no doubt not be meeting the expectations of the football department.
Benalla has won two games also in what is proving a challenging year for the Rose City team.
Jarrad Waite starred in the win last week, kicking 8 goals from his 17 possessions to help them sneak across the line against Rochester.
President Geoff Hill did say in the ONE FM broadcast game against Mooroopna that Waite wouldn’t play every week.
But I wonder whether he will need to play rather than be managed due to his ageing body not being able to back up for three games without having a rest. He had 11 score involvements against the Tigers, so the Saints could afford to be without him.
Jordan Wolff, Tom O’Brien, David Mennen, Colby Mathieson and Chris Welsh will be important players for the visitors.
They will also be hoping to recall ruckman Josh Marchbank and potentially Nick Mellington which would be some big ins for the young Saints.
Lewis McShane is in good recent form for the Bears, having kicked a couple of bags in the past three weeks.
Ruckman, Bryce Stephenson would be leading the club best and fairest award and the home team would be hoping he continue that form.
Co-coach Xavier Stevenson, Adam DeCicco and premiership forward Anthony Andronaco will be important if the Bears are to kick a winning score.
KYABRAM V SHEPPARTON SWANS
The Shepparton Swans face a massive challenge to try and go the distance with one of the league’s premiership fancies.
Kyabram is setting itself up for a top two or three finish after claiming some big scalps already in 2023, losing only to Echuca.
Thomas Holman, Will Golds, Lachlan Smith, Zachary Norris, Toby Wooller and Kane Herbert will be looking to continue their good form and put the young Swans to the sword.
The Swans did win the second half in last week’s loss to Tatura, including kick five goals in the last quarter.
Coach Jedd Wright knows this is a slow build.
Nathan Hrovat, Isaiah Jones, Tom Preece, Andrew Riordan and James Auld will be important if the Swans are to be competitive against the home team.
MANSFIELD V SHEPPARTON UNITED
Mansfield gets an opportunity to return to the winners’ den when it welcomes Shepparton United to the High Country.
The Demons have not won since the opening day of the season when it accounted for Shepparton on Good Friday.
Mitchell Roche, Harry Smith, Liam Serra, Marcus Wattie, Fergus Pinnuck and Jayden Magro will be doing their best to try and lift the Demons to victory against an Eagles outfit who has proven that it feasts on those teams outside the top six so far in 2023.
Dirk Koenen, Tom Dunstan, Daniel Leggett, Frazer Dale, Sam Lynch and Brett Mahoney will be important to ensure the Eagles keep the chasing pack outside the top six at bay.
ROCHESTER V EUROA
Euroa will be looking to bounce back to the winners’ circle when it heads to Moon Oval.
The Magpies were brilliant and lost no friends in going toe-for-toe with the reigning premier in the grand final replay last weekend and just falling short.
There was a lot to like about what they did and had it not been for some errors that lead to goals for Echuca, then the Pies could have got the win.
That aside, they now move to curbing the Tigers who will look to Joseph Atley, Mitch Cricelli, Sean Williams, Bailey Wileman, Nathan McCarty and James McPhee to try and lead them to an upset win.
Euroa will look to Ryan Pendlebury who played one of his best games since joining Euroa, forward, Tristan Davies, Andrew Bell, Jacob Gleeson and Will Hayes (31 possessions) and ruckman Andrew Smith to lead them to its sixth win of 2023.
TATURA V SEYMOUR
Tatura faces a massive challenge if it is to keep its finals aspirations alive when it takes on the in-form Seymour Lions.
Ben Rigoni and Jack O’Sullivan were the stars in the Lions’ statement win last weekend when they beat Shepparton by 15 goals.
Their dominance through the midfield allowed the forwards of Nathan Beattie, Thomas Davey, Nathan Fowler and Lachlan Waite to be on the end of the endless supply into the forward 50 after quarter time which saw the Lions kick 19 goals.
If the midfield isn’t stopped then the Bulldogs could be in for a tough day at the kennel.
Chris Ryan, Brodie Meyers, Matt Rennie, Michael Archer and Ethan Penrith will be important if the Dogs are to be competitive and match the Lions.
ECHUCA V MOOROOPNA
What a match-up this shapes up to be?
Echuca only lost one game officially in 2022 and we know who that was against – Mooroopna in round 18.
That was the win which famously qualified the Cats for the finals.
The Cats have tuned up for this challenge with two good wins over Benalla and Mansfield.
Coach John Lamont would have no doubt done his homework on how to best bring down the Murray Bombers.
He will turn to Liam Betson, Rory Huggard, Ethan Hunt, Jack Hunt, Jackson Trengove and Chris Nield to lead the way to put some early scoreboard pressure on the home team.
If the Cats can hit the scoreboard early, then it will force the likes of Cameron Valentine, Mitchell Kemp, Corbin Anderson, Sam Willoughby and Cooper Barber to wrestle that momentum away from the visitors.
Two others who will be important for the Murray Bombers will be Jack McHale who had 26 disposals in the win over Euroa to continue his strong return to the line-up after missing last year’s flag and co-coach Sam Reid had 12 clearances last weekend, so he will need some close attention from the Cats.
I like what the Cats are doing, but until they are beaten, I am not prepared to tip against the reigning premier.