Swans are carrying battle scars

May 03, 2018

Working with what they've got: Injuries have not been kind to Avenel and even playing-coach Don Stirling is not immune. But the reining best-and-fairest is likely to be fit to take the field on Saturday.

Avenel has a couple of tough weeks ahead before it can return to being a powerhouse side in the competition.

The Swans have been riddled with short-term and long-term injuries and the interleague bye can not come fast enough.

In a positive outcome coach Don Stirling is likely to return from a heel injury to face Tallygaroopna this week after a week out.

The Redlegs are the biggest task in Kyabram District Football League at the moment and sidelined assistant coach Kasey Duncan said his side would not be overcomplicating the situation on Saturday.

‘‘We’ll go back to basics (at training tonight), we’re having issues at the moment with who we’ve got on the park and are missing key guys like Don,’’ he said.

‘‘Mitch Thomas also copped a big hit against Murch (in round two) and there are a few other key members out, so we’re missing about eight or nine.

‘‘We’re trying to do what we can with what we’ve got and all that we can do at the moment is expect that effort from the whole group.’’

Chayse Thomson has grabbed the opportunity to jump into the seniors with open arms.

At 16 he has played in three of Avenel’s senior matches having also taken the field for the thirds in all four and his pace could help him become a prime ball-mover against the Redlegs.

‘‘He’s really showed the boys what we want to be with our attack on the footy and after playing in thirds he’s become a better runner and we’ve also thrown some guys in different positions,’’ Duncan said.

‘‘Guys like Max Lawrence playing a midfield role has been really good.’’

Taking charge with their experience are Michael Morgan and Scott Tyres who can always be relied upon, but the Swans are looking beyond this week to turn things around.

‘‘We still have a good core group and hopefully Don will come back this week, we’ve got a good stretch after Tally, so if we do our best (on Saturday) who knows?,’’ Duncan said.

The Swans went down to Girgarre last week after dropping off in the second half, while the Redlegs blitzed Violet Town by 95 points.

With Tim Karolidis and Tyson Sidebottom in outstanding form the duo will make Avenel work for each goal.

Longwood v Girgarre

Girgarre is in unstoppable form at the moment and making the most of its early season games.

Having defeated Ardmona, Violet Town and Avenel for three wins on the trot, the Kangaroos are staking an early claim to a finals position.

Against the Swans last week Jayden Tucker, Ashley Kirchhofer, Nick Mellington and Ash Hughes all dominated and made the most of playing the undermanned squad.

A contest against the Redlegs will be a good indication of where Longwood sits with the Redlegs going down heavily to Lancaster last week.

But Nick Brown will want his side to start this game how it ended last week with a positive showing in the final term where his side never drop its head.

Rushworth v Lancaster

Lancaster will storm into this match with another percentage boosting result on its mind.

The Wombats have by no means struggled to score this season, putting on totals of 249, 67, 77 and 156.

Ranking the highest in attack, Lancaster has also been most stringent in defence by conceding just 177 points.

The Tigers are struggling to find ways to goal, but performed admirably against Murchison-Toolamba given their current struggles with unavailable players.

But the focus should be on limiting the Wombats’ way forward and stopping Chris Eddy and Michael Hill from getting within scoring distance.

The pair has combined for 28 goals with plenty more options also available in Lancaster’s line-up.

Merrigum v Stanhope

Third plays fourth in a match that will show Merrigum where it is at.

The Bulldogs are the team occupying third position after adding Dookie United to their list of scalps in their undefeated season.

But the Lions are in the mix to inflict on the Bulldogs their first loss of the season.

Co-coaches Rob Montgomery and Troy Auld have built upon last year and have Stanhope firing on all cylinders with a smooth midfield transition bringing the ball to accurate forwards.

Zak Parkinson and Tom Cooper will be under pressure to stand up in defence as Stanhope’s Ryan Emmett looks to join Cobey Aynsley with goals in the double figures this season.

How this match finishes could be an indicator of the finals make up in September.

Ardmona v Nagambie

Nagambie has so far not enjoyed the season it would have envisaged during summer.

But a game against Ardmona should allow it to secure a much-needed victory to get back on track.

Coach Linc Sullivan was away for Nagambie’s loss to Stanhope last week allowing Martin Shadbolt to step in as coach.

Shadbolt is hopeful the team can win any way it can, so the side will not be complaining about four points, even if they are won ugly against Ardmona.

With reserves players running out senior games, there lies an in for the Cats to get a few scores on the board.

Ardmona had put through a goal against Undera last week before its match was called off before half-time due to an injury causing play to stop for more than half an hour.

A positive for the Cats is coach Luke Trevena producing strong on-field performances.

Dookie United v Stanhope

Dookie United will be keen to rebound after going down to Merrigum by seven points last week.

United took the early lead after a strong start, but after surrendering the buffer could never regain it.

Steve Reeves’ side was still able to pull back momentum at moments throughout the match which will hold them in good stead against the Lions.

Stanhope can take full grasp of a match and run with it, so United will benefit from being able to turn things around when things are not going to plan.

Aside from their sole loss to Tallygaroopna, the Lions have dominated proceedings against Girgarre, Undera and Nagambie.

But Sam Bowmaker and Wayne Pavitt hold the key for United in breaking down that run and ensuring the Lions do not have everything their own way.

Violet Town v Undera

Violet Town can take advantage of playing Undera to secure just their second win of the season, but if it brings anything less than its best the Lions will be ready to pounce.

Undera is on the hunt for its first win of the season and Justin Torney is searching for his first victory as senior coach.

The Lions will be better off for their tough start to the season which started with Nagambie and Stanhope before meeting Ardmona last week.

Shaun Standley and Jake Cormick will be looking to continue the solid form they showed in the abandonned game last week against the Cats.

Meanwhile, the Towners have much to improve on after going down by 95 points to Tallygaroopna in a game where they scored only three goals.

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