To risk or not to risk?

September 07, 2017

Shepparton East's Jamie Spencer is one of a handful of players trying to prove their fitness for Saturday's preliminary final.

Rennie and Shepparton East will be sweating on the availability of key players until right before the bounce at Dookie Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

The Grasshoppers will certainly be without forward Gareth Oughton (knee) for the cutthroat Picola District Football League south-east preliminary final clash, with Matt Pendergast and Matt McCabe facing concussion tests.

But playing coach Craig Ednie was confident that if the duo did not recover in time, those who took their place would do just as good a job.

‘‘All year we haven’t had too much go our way with injury,’’ he said.

‘‘The players we’ve called on have performed well and we’ll just have to draw on everyone again.’’

After losing to the Eagles three times during the regular season, the Grasshoppers were able to turn the tables in the qualifying final to record a six-goal victory.

While the players have taken plenty of confidence out of that performance, Ednie knows it will be much tougher going this weekend.

‘‘Shepp East and Tungamah have been the best sides in the competition for a long time, and I’m sure they (the Eagles) will be looking to atone for that loss,’’ he said.

Rennie failed to win a match in each of the past two seasons, but Ednie said his charges would not be satisfied with the year if it were to finish on the penultimate weekend.

‘‘The club is obviously very happy, but the players would be pretty disappointed if we didn’t win, like Shepp East would be,’’ he said.

‘‘We set ourselves a goal at the start of the year to play finals, not many people gave us a chance but we knew where we were at, so hopefully this isn’t our last game for the year.’’

Meanwhile, the Eagles are hoping that Joey Perkovic (thigh), Nathan Barolli (hamstring) and Jamie Spencer (ankle) will take to the field against the Grasshoppers, but the trio will have to pass a fitness test to stake their claim.

Playing coach Dwain Vidler expected a tough challenge from Rennie.

‘‘Obviously we’re hoping for a different result from last time, they’re a very good side,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve really got to make sure we can match them in the contested footy because they’re a strong side.

‘‘But it’s mostly all about what we’re doing, everyone has got to play their role because we don’t have the side to rely on six players to drag us over the line, we need 22 blokes pulling their weight.’’


Saturday’s preliminary final matches at Dookie

Seniors: Rennie v Shepparton East at 2pm.

Reserves: Tungamah v Waaia at 12.30pm.

Under-17s: Katandra v Katunga at 10.35pm.

Rennie v Waaia at 9.20pm.

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