Border Mail Round 10 – Preview
Last round marked the half-way point of the season and there’s still more questions than answers about most teams. Nine teams remain in the finals hunt with Brock-Burrum, Culcairn and Osborne emerging as legitimate flag contenders. The remaining three spots in the top-six look set to be hotly contested with injuries and the seeded draw to have a major impact on the fate of the remaining sides in finals contention. BRENT GODDE looks at how the rest of the season may unfold.
POSITION: 2nd (7-2)
SEASON SO FAR: Look well poised for a coveted top-two finish and are the only side to claim the prized scalp of Brock-Burrum so far this season. Rumours coming out of the den are the Lions are close to luring at least one and possibly two late recruits before the clearance deadline. If true, the Lions could take a power of beating come September. Adam Prior is yet to reach the heights expected of the league’s highest-profile recruit. The Lions will be hoping the big stage of finals sparks the Doug Strang medallist into action.
POSITION: 3rd (7-2)
SEASON SO FAR: Started the season as flag favourite but a spate of injuries has put the Tigers’ top-two aspirations in jeopardy. Will be sweating on the results of scans on Jamie Parr who went down last round with a suspected knee injury. The Tigers’ premiership aspirations could be in tatters without their Azzi medallist causing havoc in September.
POSITION: 4th (6-3)
SEASON SO FAR: Have capitalised on a friendly draw to sit fourth on the ladder with a 6-3 record. And while there is no doubting the Crows have improved significantly, they are still yet to prove they can match it with the league heavyweights. Their only notable scalp was against a severely under-manned Henty. Need to defeat CDHBU, Murray Magpies, Howlong and Holbrook again in the run home to guarantee their first finals berth since crossing to the Hume league.
POSITION: 5th (6-3)
SEASON SO FAR: Are similar to the Crows and apart from an upset win against an under-manned Henty, most of the Demons’ wins have been against the lesser lights of the competition. Leeton-Whitton recruit Neil Irwin has been one of the finds of the season and the man mountain would have no doubt attracted the attention of the umpires and be in Azzi medal contention.
POSITION: 6th (5-4)
SEASON SO FAR: After exiting the finals in straight sets last season, the Swampies were expected to again be genuine contenders. Despite boasting two stars of the competition in former AFL players Damian Cupido and Jared Brennan there are gaping holes in the line-up they are struggling to fill. The big concern is a leaky defence with the Swampies conceding the most points of the sides inside the top-six. Coach Joel Price will be sweating that Dan Leslie can make a return and strengthen their back six sometime soon.
POSITION: 7th (4-5)
SEASON SO FAR: Have strung together three consecutive wins but the loss against Billabong Crows may have cruelled the Brookers’ finals aspirations.
POSITION: 8th (4-5)
SEASON SO FAR: Have proved competitive against the heavyweights, upsetting Osborne and suffering a narrow defeat against Culcairn. But losses to Howlong, Lockhart and Holbrook last week could prove costly in the final wash-up.
POSITION: 9th (4-5)
SEASON SO FAR: Have lost four in-a-row and would need to win the next three against Holbrook, Henty and RWW Giants to be any hope of a finals berth.
POSITION: 10th (2-7)
SEASON SO FAR: Have improved as the season has progressed and remain a dangerous proposition at home.
POSITION: 11th (1-8)
SEASON SO FAR: The Power continue to battle against the odds, but its hard to see them beating any side other than Magpies.
POSITION: 12th (0-9)
SEASON SO FAR: Look destined for a winless season, especially with their best player Daniel Maher sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Henty will hold its own Indigenous round against Rand-Walbundrie-Walla at Henty on Saturday.
Players will wear specially designed Indigenous-themed jumpers to mark the occasion.
Henty has five Indigenous players, Kim Kantilla, Daniel Cox, William Farrer, Zaniel Binbusu and Dale Cox.
Swampies coach Joel Price said with the club having such a strong contingent of players from up north, officials were keen to put the fixture into place.
“We are really excited about the day,” Price said.
“We not only want to honour our Indigenous players but all Indigenous players, past and present.”
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.
An Indigenous dance group, Maliyaa, will perform at half-time.
Before the match there will be a ceremony with Luke Wighton playing the didgeridoo.
Swampie Kim Kantilla said he couldn’t wait to don the Indigenous-themed jumper.
“I really like the design of the jumpers and they look great,” Kantilla said.
“I’ll have to make sure that I don’t get tackled because I don’t wont to get my jumper ripped.
“We all have been made so welcome since we arrived at Henty and are overwhelmed by the gesture.
“It’s really exciting that the club has been able to organise the day and to recognise and celebrate our culture.”
Price said the clash was a must win game for the Swampies after recent losses to Billabong Crows and Lockhart had put their finals aspirations in jeopardy.
“It’s a huge game for us in the context of our season,” Price said.
“It was good to get back on the winner’s list last week but it’s been a tough month with injuries and players unavailable.”
Rand-Walbundrie-Walla will be equally desperate for the four points to keep its finals hopes alive.
The Giants sit eighth with a 4-5 record.
The merged identity remains a dangerous proposition, highlighted by a recent win over Osborne and going down to Culcairn by less than a kick.
“We have got a lot of respect for the Giants,” Price said.
“I still rate them as a legitimate finals contender.
“Myles Aalbers is a match-winner for them and they have got some quality on their list.
“So we know we are going to have to play our best football to get the win.”
Price said they will be close to full-strength besides recruit Dan Leslie (knee) and Harry Nunn.
Price said he was hopeful Leslie could return soon.
BROCK-BURRUM v LOCKHART
JINDERA v MAGPIES
HENTY v RWW GIANTS
HOLBROOK v HOWLONG
OSBORNE v CDHBU
CULCAIRN v BILL CROWS
Brock-Burrum, Culcairn, RWW Giants, Holbrook, Jindera, Osborne
Brock-Burrum, Culcairn, Henty, Howlong, Jindera, Osborne
Brock-Burrum, Culcairn, Henty, Holbrook, Jindera, Osborne
Lockhart, Culcairn, Henty, Holbrook, Jindera, Osborne
Dual Des Kennedy medallist Kylin Morey has lodged a clearance to join former club Brock-Burrum from Cudgewa. The rumour mill has it the Saints are also trying to lure another former premiership player back to the fold that has been playing O&M reserves and is yet to crack it for a senior game.
Last week marked the half-way of the season and Culcairn’s Jye Shields looks the early favourite to win the Azzi medal. Shields has finished runner-up the past two season’s but has taken his game to a higher level so far this year. Henty’s Zorran Bin Busu, Matt Seiter and Steve Jolliffe would also be prominent but have missed matches would could prove costly.
Two bags of seven goals in the past fortnight has rocketed Henty sharpshooter Damian Cupido to the top of the goalkicking list. Cupido has booted 42 for the season and will need a big second-half of the year if he is to crack the ton for the second year in-a-row. The former AFL player leads Culcairn’s Adam Prior (36) and Billabong Crows Josh Evans (27).