East out to rock Rennie for fourth time

August 24, 2017

"This is what we play for", says Shepparton East coach Dwain Vidler ahead of Saturday's qualifying finals in Picola District Football League. Vidlers' troops will face Rennie.

And then there were five.

Shepparton East, Rennie, Waaia and Katunga will feature in the first week of finals in the Picola District Football League south-east division, while minor premier Tungamah has the weekend off.

Dwain Vidler’s Eagles, who finished second, will face Rennie in Saturday’s qualifying final at Tungamah.

The two clubs have already played three times this season, but Vidler was not looking too far back.

‘‘This is what we play football for,’’ Vidler said.

‘‘It is finals time and anything can happen, we do not want to dwell on the past, but I do think it gives the boys a little bit of confidence going in.’’

At near full strength, the reigning premier Eagles will look to continue the streak that had them beat the Grasshoppers by a combined 187 points across three games.

Cobey Aynsley, who last year kicked 106 goals, has been a little bit quieter this season, but the dead-eye still leads the team with 57 majors.

Reigning Pearce medallist Matt Rendina will also be a threat for the Eagles, with the midfielder enjoying more freedom since his close mate Joey Perkovic has returned from an overseas trip.

‘‘We have got plenty of options going forward and I feel we are starting to play some good football again after we had a little midseason slump,’’ Vidler said.

For the first time in six weeks Vidler has a full list to choose from.

Ruckman Damon Carroll returned last week from a shoulder injury, defender Nathan Barolli should return after injuring his hamstring three weeks ago and Perkovic is nearing full fitness.

‘‘It doesn’t happen very often, but the vibe is good at the moment and there was a real buzz at training on Tuesday night,’’ Vidler said.

Regardless of the Eagles’ arsenal, they will need to be on guard against the Grasshoppers, with playing coach Craig Ednie, Chase Strawhorn and Mitch Collins-Bye featuring prominently this season.

Ednie and Strawhorn missed the middle of the season through injury, but after a few weeks on the field, the duo are expected to play a key role.

Strawhorn was leading the league goalkicking tally before he missed due to injury, while Collins-Bye, 19, has featured in the best nine times this season.

‘‘It is going to be a massive game, it’s finals and we will need to do a few things differently this time round coming up against the Eagles,’’ Ednie said.

‘‘They are the premier side and have been for the last two seasons, so we know we are up against it.’’

The Grasshoppers have had an interrupted season through injuries and Ednie will give his players every chance to feature on Saturday.

‘‘We have a few players who are racing against the clock, so we will have to try and manage them and see how they get through training,’’ Ednie said.

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