Unfamiliar territory

July 27, 2017

Kyle Winter-Irving (left) will provide a boost for Nagambie when he returns to the field against Merrigum on Saturday.

Nagambie is coming off a loss for the first time since round four, with Merrigum set to bear the full brunt of a reigning premier on the rebound.

The Lakers fell to Stanhope by 25 points last week, but coach Linc Sullivan was confident of an improved performance from his troops back at home.

‘‘It was a disappointing loss, but we will bounce back,’’ he said.

‘‘We won’t be changing a great deal, just trying to continue to get numbers back from injury and stuff like that.’’

A host of inclusions could provide a massive boost for the home side, with Kyle Winter-Irving and Martin Shadbolt set to return and Michael and Jason Shiels on the cusp of coming back.

However, Nagambie will not be underestimating the sixth-placed Bulldogs.

‘‘We’re expecting a physical contest, they have a lot of mature players and bigger bodies,’’ Sullivan said.

‘‘If we play a run and carry game like we’ve been trying to, it should be a good one to watch.

‘‘We’re not quite at our optimum best side, but hopefully it will be good enough.’’

Last time the sides met it was the Lakers who took the honours by 50 points, but Merrigum coach Mick Power hoped his side could turn the tables on Saturday.

‘‘It’s going to be tough, but they’re obviously not unbeatable,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re looking forward to the challenge, we know they’ll come out hard, but if we get a good start we might be able to put a bit of doubt in their minds.’’

The Bulldogs fell six goals short of Murchison-Toolamba last week, but Rohan Hearn and Jake Ross continued their great form of late.

With a few sore troops on deck, Power could be turning to young talent in Ryan Mangan and Tom Cooper to help his side get across the line, a position he is not unfamiliar with.

‘‘Usually on average we have about four changes every week, so it’s what we’ve dealt with all year,’’ he said.

As his side is only a game ahead of the Grasshoppers and Lancaster, Power knows it must continue to find a way to win tough matches like this one.

‘‘It is crucial for our finals chances to keep winning, we’ve probably got a harder draw than those sides below us,’’ he said.

‘‘But we’re in there now and we just have to keep winning (to stay there).’’

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