Border Mail Round 7 – Preview
SELDOM, if ever have the Billabong Crows had match of the round billing in the Hume league.
But that is the situation the Crows find themselves in when they host Henty at Urana on Saturday.
The Crows have so far claimed the lesser scalps of CDHBU, Murray Magpies, Howlong and Holbrook.
Arguably, Al Austin’s outfit could be undefeated after losing to both Lockhart and Rand-Walbundrie-Walla by less than a kick.
But questions still remain whether they are final contenders or have merely capitalised on a friendly draw.
The picture will become somewhat clearer after the Crows clash with Henty who sit seventh despite also starting the season 4-2.
Crows big man Ryan Davies said there was a real buzz around the club but was mindful that it is still early in a long season.
“It’s been a fantastic start and exciting to be a part of,” Davies said.
“But we are not getting too ahead of ourselves.
“We are just working hard and getting some reward for effort at the moment.”
Davies said one of the new-look Crows’ biggest assets was not having to rely on one or two stand-out players for victory each week.
“Our recruits have been good and have no doubt helped us improve,” he said.
“But I think everyone is working a lot harder this season and we have a lot more structure on match-day.
“Obviously Bronson Schofield was our highest profile recruit and hasn’t disappointed racking up plenty of touches in the midfield.
“Josh Evans has the ability to weave in and out of traffic pretty easily and hurts the opposition on the scoreboard.
“While Zach Kerr has been handed some big match-up down back and has been up to the challenge.”
Davies who is in his second season at the Crows, said the players also responded well to Austin’s laid-back coaching style.
“Al may be the most laid-back coach in the league but has won everybody’s respect,” he said.
“He leads by example and you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Davies, who previously played at Wahgunyah, said Saturday’s clash against Henty would be their toughest test to date.
“We are realistic and are fully aware Holbrook last week was the first side we have beat that played finals last year,” he said.
“But we are pretty happy with our progress.
“We have got a lot more depth than last year and are playing a better and more consistent brand of football.
“If we can reproduce the sort of footy we played last week, hopefully we will be able to get over the line.”
Howlong faces a huge challenge putting its season back on track when it takes on reigning premier Brock-Burrum at Howlong on Saturday.
After making an impressive start to the home and away series, the Spiders are on the brink of dropping out of the top-six following two defeats in their last three games.
“We didn’t do that against Jindera.
“Our skill level going forward was poor and we hope to address it this week.
“It’s a tight comp and you have to be switched on every time you run out to play.”
Brock-Burrum’s combination in the centre square of Matt Seiter, Nico Sedgwick and Luke Schilg has been unstoppable and the Spiders will need Peter Hancock, Matt McDonald and Ben Baker to stand up with Steve Jolliffe (finger) missing.
Sedgwick is in career-best form in the midfield.
SATURDAY, JUNE 1
Howlong v Brock-Burrum
Lockhart v Holbrook
Billabong Crows v Henty
Murray Magpies v Osborne
Rand-Walbundrie-Walla v Culcairn
(Former Brock-Burrum coach)
(The Border Mail)
(Holbrook life member)
Azzi medallist Steve Jolliffe is set to miss Saturday’s clash against Brock-Burrum after cutting his finger cutting wood at the weekend.
Although the injury isn’t too serious, coach Beau Packer said he would be sidelined for a week.
Jolliffe’s absence is a huge blow with Saint midfielders Nico Sedgwick, Luke Schilg and Ron Boulton in sizzling form.
At least two clubs look set to announce key signings before the clearance deadline.
Both players have family ties with the respective clubs with one an outside chance of lining up on Saturday.
Henty will hold its own Indigenous round against Rand-Walbundrie-Walla at Henty on June 22.
With the club having a strong contingent of players from up north, officials were keen to put the fixture into place.
Jumpers will be auctioned after the game with all money raised going to mental health in the region as well as the Western Australia/Tiwi Islands communities.