SHEPPARTON UNITED V ROCHESTER
This is a golden opportunity for both these teams to chalk up win number 2 for 2023.
Both are struggling and sitting at 1-8 and in the bottom two.
United last won on Good Friday against Shepparton while the Tigers won a month ago against Tatura.
Sheldon Bogdan, Adam Pigatto, Lewis Stanton (four goals), Brodie Telford, Harry Smith and Jayden Magro (22 goals from his 9 games) will be important as the Demons try to end a run of 8 losses in a row.
Joseph Atley, Mitch Cricelli, Blake Evans, Reid Gordon and Bailey Wileman will be important as the Tigers look for a four-quarter performance that will ultimately lead to a win.
This is a real toss of the coin game and I going to go with the home team in a low-scoring arm wrestle.
SEYMOUR V ECHUCA
What a game of football this promises to be.
Echuca undefeated. Seymour – one of the challengers and sitting at 8-1 in second spot on the ladder.
The Lions have tuned up for this contest with a strong win over Shepparton and a grinding win over the improving Tatura.
Coach Ben Davey knows his team will need to do everything right to crack open the game plan of Echuca.
He will look to Huw Jones, Jack O’Sullivan, Ben Rigoni and Ben Cooney to lead the way and the Lions should welcome back Nathan Fowler while the availability of Angus Murray (four goals) will depend on whether he is required for the Coates TAC Cup U18 competition.
Echuca was outstanding in pushing past the Cats after a first half grind.
Co-coach Samuel Reid has been in outstanding form while Cameron Valentine was brilliant in the defensive third for the Murray Bombers.
Youngster, Corbin Anderson was great up forward with five goals, ruckman Liam Tenace and Jack Evans were others to contribute in the win.
The Murray Bombers will welcome back Matthew Lias from suspension, which will be important given his good form to date in 2023.
Again, until they are beaten, I’m not picking against them.
MANSFIELD V KYABRAM
This will be an intriguing match-up for a variety of reasons, but it will mostly likely tell us more about where Mansfield is in the premiership pecking order.
The Eagles have lost three games in 2023 – all to teams above them while the Bombers have been very consistent in 2023, only losing to Echuca but having had wins against three teams inside the top six.
Rhys Clark, Zachary Norris, Kaine Herbert, Archie Watt, Lachlan Smith, Kyle Mueller (five goals last week) and Brad Mangan (five goals last week and 22 goals from six games in 2023) will be important players as the Bombers look to continue that winning form
Dirk Koenen, Cameron Arnold (nine goals), Jack Tomanovits, Lachlan Murphy-Dale, Lachie Christopher, Jack Hutchins and Brett Mahoney will be important as the home team will be desperate to reverse the trend against the top half-a-dozen teams in the competition.
EUROA V MOOROOPNA
This is a massive game in the context of the season of these two teams and where they want to land at the end of the home-and-away season.
Jack McKernan, Jayden Gleeson, Nate Trotter, Andrew Smith, Max Gleeson and the returning Will Hayes will be important for the home team as they look to inflict a second straight defeat to the visiting Cats
They will take solace from kicking 7.6 in the last quarter so they will look to start the game strongly, especially knowing the Cats aren’t fast starters.
Keelin Betson, Liam Betson, Jack Johnston, Bryce Rutherford, Chris Nield and Jed Woods will be important for the Cats.
If they can continue their good form, then the visitors are a strong chance of claiming the win.
But to do that the Cats will need play the game right out, especially after giving up 10 of the last 13 goals against Echuca last weekend.
SHEPPARTON SWANS V BENALLA
This is a massive opportunity for these teams to chalk up a rare win for the two of them.
The Swans haven’t won since defeating United in round two while Benalla last won in round eight.
Tom Bennett, Wade King, James Martiniello, Colby Mathieson and Christopher Welsh were good for the Saints in their 10-goal loss to Shepparton.
Josh Marchbank and Nick Mellington returning to the line-up made a huge difference to give the young Saints some bigger and experienced bodies in around the contest.
If Jarrod Waite is available that is likely to tip the scales in the favour of the Saints.
He missed last weekend’s loss to the Bears to give his body a rest after playing three consecutive games for the Saints.
Nathan Hrovat, Bowen Calogero, Tom Preece, Rylen Damianopoulos and Ben Gilberto will be important for the young Swans while the experience Jamie McMillan and Sam Wright could prove decisive if the Swans are to get a win.
Tip: Benalla if Waite plays. Swans if he misses.
TATURA V SHEPPARTON
This is going to be an evenly contested match with the winner to assume bragging rights as the best of the teams outside the top six.
Both sit at 3-6, with Tatura in seventh, ahead of Shepparton on percentage.
Tyron Baden, Trent Herbert (six goals and 13 from his 5 games for 2023), Lewis McShane (four goals and 13 in the past month), Jayden Dhosi and Adam De Cicco will be important for the visitors.
The Bears will welcome back co-coach Ted Lindon who missed the game due to a one game ban for a round 8 incident against Seymour.
Harley McCarthy, Sean McAllister and James Bennett were outstanding for the Dogs in their defeat to Seymour. Ethan Penrith, Brodie Meyers and Chris Ryan will be others that will be important for the Dogs as they look to continue their good form of 2023.
Nick Allan will play his 350th game for the Bears.
Allan has been outstanding one club player and very durable. He played in the club’s historic 2018 premiership and should be commended for staying with the club through the tough times.
With that milestone and the run and dare of the young Bears, I think they can break down strong defensive structures of the Bulldogs to kick enough goals to be in front at the end.