Sport

Ready for the task at hand

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June 01, 2017

Lancaster will be without gun midfielder Ben Schulz, right, for Saturday's clash with Girgarre and for the rest of the season after suffering a serious knee injury.

Girgarre is well aware of what it needs to do on Saturday.

To bolster its claims of breaking a long Kyabram District finals drought, a victory at Lancaster against the Wombats is a must.

There were a number of changes at Girgarre Recreation Reserve during the off-season, including Shannon Tucker coming in as a playing-coach.

The Kangaroos have put together three wins in a row after being outplayed by premiership contenders Violet Town and Tallygaroopna during the opening two rounds.

After a bye last week, Girgarre is determined to build on a win against an undermanned Rushworth in round six.

‘‘Nothing against Rushy at all, they were really struggling with injuries and a few guys out when we played them, but we want to knock off the better sides,’’ Tucker said.

‘‘We’re definitely wanting to knock off Lanky on the weekend.’’

Tucker said the energy around the club was rubbing off on everyone, with all players knowing the expectations which are set.

‘‘With some new faces, it probably has taken a while, but we’re up and going now,’’ Tucker said.

‘‘We had 40 blokes on the track (on Tuesday night) and there’s a lot of people buying into it all.

‘‘There’s guys in the twos eager to come up, so there’s a lot of depth there now.’’

A major positive for the Roos has been their ability to find a variety of avenues to goal.

Seventeen players have registered a major so far this season, with Tucker, Ash Kirchhofer and Ash Hughes regularly popping up with multiple majors.

Nick Mellington and Matt Bartlett were rewarded for excellent form by being selected in the victorious interleague team which defeated Golden Rivers last month.

Lancaster is in a similar predicament to the Roos, with the Wombats also prevailing in the games they should have won, but were well beaten by Violet Town and Tallygaroopna.

Michael Hill has picked up where he left off last season and is coming off a best-on-ground seven-goal haul in a 62-point thumping of Rushworth last week.

Kyabram premiership player Steve Thomson’s return to Wombatland has been vital, with the McNamara medallist bringing class and experience.

Besim Besim, Josh Berry, Damon Burns and Liam Nedeljkovich are in top form.

However, the Wombats are going to be without star midfielder Ben Schulz for the rest of the season after he did his ACL last month.

Playing-coach Nick Bertoli said a win would give an indication about its finals aspirations.

‘‘These are the sides you have to aim to beat and I know it’s early to say all that, but it gives you a gauge of where you are and where you need to get to,’’ Bertoli said.

‘‘They’ll probably be exactly like us thinking this is a game that we’ll need to win.’’

Murchison-Toolamba v Rushworth

Murchison-Toolamba has a chance to continue its dominant past fortnight when it hosts Rushworth on Saturday.

The Grasshoppers are coming off big wins against bottom sides Longwood and Undera, but the Tigers will pose a far more stern test.

However, Rushworth has been battling injury concerns, causing its depth to be tested significantly.

A full-strength Rushworth would have considered itself a genuine chance of knocking over Lancaster, but the Tigers were smashed to the tune of 62 points by the Wombats last week.

The Grasshoppers are starting to get their mix of experience and youth right, with Ashton Cashion and Luke Armstrong lethal around goals against the Lions.

A 2013 premiership hero, Brayden Cecchin has been a standout, while Josh Lawrence has been a consistent contributor.

The home side should be thinking it is a serious chance of causing a boilover.

Avenel v Longwood

A forced bye came at the wrong time for Avenel. The Swans were coming off a breakthrough win against Tallygaroopna, getting their finals ambitions back on track. But with Ardmona having no senior team and forfeiting, Avenel’s momentum was halted and it got the four points without turning up to the ground.

However, the Swans will start red-hot favourites to rack up another win on Saturday when they host embattled Longwood.

Avenel will be without star midfielder Kasey Duncan for the rest of the season after he undergoes a second knee reconstruction.

The Redlegs played without a bench against Nagambie last week and fronted the AFL Goulburn Murray Commission on Tuesday night to explain why they went above the player points cap against Murchison-Toolamba in round six.

Former Murray Bushrangers Ben Tautala and Henry Peni have been welcome additions, but Longwood has been having trouble fielding its best team every week.

Nagambie v Undera

This one could get ugly.

Reigning premier Nagambie was missing six premiership heroes against Longwood because of interleague suspensions and still recorded a 143-point win last week.

Stars Anthony Haysom, Mick Roberts, Mick Shiels, Jackson Hutton, Kyle Winter-Irving and Marty Shadbolt are expected to return after serving their bans and will be fired up to perform well. Those players have not had a game since April 6 because of the interleague break, a bye and then being forced to sit out against the Redlegs.

Ricky Misiti came out of retirement to fill in last week, Jake Lloyd stepped back into the fold to make his 200th appearance at senior level, and Mat Waterson was on fire with seven goals.

Undera is coming off an 80-point defeat to Murchison-Toolamba and will be looking to be competitive for as long as possible.

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