Down hard road

July 28, 2017

: Luke Morgan (right) is looking forward to his Benalla side testing its credentials against Shepparton tomorrow.

Shepparton’s tough run of games gets even harder tomorrow when Benalla comes to town.

After losing to Kyabram by 16 points and falling two points short against Euroa, the Bears’ coach Brad Campbell stressed the importance of tomorrow’s clash.

‘‘It’s a huge game for us this week, we’ve just got to find a way to get the four points,’’ he said.

With the trio, as well as the Bears, making up the top four teams in the Goulburn Valley League it is certainly an interesting quirk of the draw, but Campbell was embracing it.

‘‘It is a tough patch of games and we were obviously wary of it the first cycle around, but I think there’s lots of positives in this block,’’ he said.

‘‘Each and every week we’re being really challenged and tested, and occasionally holes will appear in our game, but it is a really good learning process.

‘‘It is allowing us to constantly develop and improve, we can only learn and get better.’’

Shepparton is likely to be unchanged from last week and high on the list of priorities tomorrow will be finding a way to stop Benalla star Jarrod Bannister.

‘‘He’s a really good, versatile player and our defenders will have to be on their game,’’ Campbell said.

‘‘If we can restrict him to less than his average (5.71 goals per game), it will go a long way (towards a Shepparton win).’’

However, the Saints’ playing coach Luke Morgan had other ideas.

‘‘I’m looking forward to seeing him in action on Deakin Reserve,’’ he said.

‘‘I think it’s a ground where the forwards can have more involvement in the game, and that’s suited to him.’’

Morgan also believed this clash would shape how the season ended.

‘‘It is a really ladder-defining game for us and for them,’’ he said.

‘‘Third spot is on the line and it’s a good chance for us to test ourselves and get a real benchmark of where we’re at.’’

Youth is certainly the theme at Benalla, with Bannister and Morgan again expected to be the only players older than 23 on the field.

‘‘We’re a young, developing side, but there’s plenty of talent within those guys,’’ Morgan said.

‘‘But they’re not just getting a game just because they’re young, they definitely deserve the opportunities.’’

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