Season-defining matches looming

Scott Berechree


North Gippsland

Round four of the North Gippsland league provides a trio of games that, even this early in the season, could shape the remainder of the year for about half dozen sides.

In the first game, Yarram will make the trip to Rosedale.

Both sides suffered losses last week with Rosedale being soundly beaten by the well-fancied Sale City, while Cowwarr caused the upset of the season when they knocked off reigning premiers Yarram.

This was the second loss in a row at home for the highly-touted Demons.

Another loss this week would mean Yarram could fall to one and three after the first month of the season which is hardly the way they would have wanted to start their premiership defence.

Should Rosedale get up this week they would stay in touch with the top two sides and put a nice gap between Yarram and themselves in the race for a top three position at season’s end.

Rosedale v Yarram

Rosedale coach Sam Bristow is acutely aware of the hunger Yarram will be bringing to the match up, noting they are “a quality opponent who will be looking to bounce back after last week.”

His own side’s chances are enhanced by the return of match-winners Dale Fleming and Rohan Hildebrand along with the ever-reliable Luke Rossberg.

Bristow will be looking to Brandon McDonald, Ben Jones and the colossus that is Frazar Brouns to fire up forward, knowing if they can kick a dozen-plus goals they are half way to getting the win.

Getting a big score on the board will be important given Yarram’s failure to kick more than 10 goals in their last two defeats.

Like his counterpart, Yarram coach Matt Scholz also hopes to have a few inclusions this week but won’t know for sure until after tonight’s training run.

He observed that Rosedale play a fast, free-flowing game and that Yarram would need to “win the footy on the inside and nullify their run” to get the win.

He also lamented the Demons’ recent poor ball use with turnovers playing a big role in their two losses.

Cowwarr v TTU

Coming off back-to-back wins the mighty Saints of Cowwarr will be full of confidence heading into their clash with TTU.

A win here would mark Cowwarr as a genuine finals contender and give them wins over two of last year’s top three sides in the first four rounds.

Even with leading goalkickers Shane Morgan and Nick Wozniac, who have 31 majors between them so far this season, being held to just two apiece last week, the Saints found a way to kick a winning score.

TTU will need to shut down the dynamic duo and also keep a close eye on the ever reliable Pat Tainsh who again has been a stand out for the Saints in the early part of season 2019.

The Bombers too have some weapons up front but their forward line is yet to fire in 2019 with no TTU player kicking more than four goals for the season.

A game which many would have pencilled in as a TTU win pre-season suddenly looms as a real opportunity for both sides.

Glengarry v Sale City

Another side with a chance to prove itself a genuine finals contenders this week is Glengarry who take on Sale City.

Glengarry head into the game after a monstrous win over the hapless Gormandale and will be looking forward to the challenge of taking on the Bulldogs.

While a perennial finalist and fearsome outfit, Sale City have been known to drop the unexpected game here and there over the last few seasons.

Glengarry will hope this week is that game for season 2019.

An unlikely win for the Pies would catapult them into the finals frame after a month of footy and set up a huge second half to the season.

Meanwhile, Sale City will simply look to continue their winning ways and retain their spot atop the ladder.

Heyfield v Gormandale

Gormandale have had the ignominy of having the highest score of the round kicked against them in the first three weeks of the season.

Sadly that trend may continue in their round four clash with Heyfield.

The Roos have had a tough start to the season, already meeting two of last year’s top three sides.

Heyfield sit on the ladder with one win and two losses and were in with a winning chance in both defeats.

Their form is simply far superior to that of Gormandale who would take the mantle of “upset of the year” from Cowwarr after just one week if they are able to get the win.

Woodside v Churchill

The final clash of the round has a similar feel to it with the winless Woodside welcoming an undefeated Churchill.

Woodside are always a much tougher side to beat at home but the last time Churchill ventured to the home of the Wildcats they kicked 10 majors in the third quarter of a semi-final so the venue holds no fears.

The Cougars lose Ivan Maric from last week’s line up but will regain the ever-green Alan Chandler.

Unfortunately Chandler won’t be able to fill the rucking void left by Maric so the Cougars will be desperately hoping Nathan McRae is also able to be added to the side.

It is hard to foresee anything other than a Churchill win.