Picola District Football League’s two standout sides will clash on Saturday in a thriller at Deniliquin — and someone’s ‘‘0’’ will have to go.
Waaia has looked unstoppable and a level above its rivals in moving to a 5-0 record — with the potential exception of the surging Deniliquin Rovers.
Sitting 6-0, the Rovers have well and truly lived up to lofty pre-season expectations, but could make the ultimate statement this weekend by knocking off the premiership favourites.
The Bombers have outscored their opponents by 602 points in five games and coach Matt Brown was keen for his side to show it could do it against the best.
‘‘We’re definitely looking forward to it, our next five or six games are against some of those top contenders,’’ Brown said.
‘‘That’s not to talk down our opponents so far, we’ve been challenged at stages, but just not for four quarters.
‘‘We’ll know a lot more about ourselves come five o’clock on Sunday.’’
Deniliquin had to do it the hard way in an eight-point win against Rennie, trailing by that same margin at three-quarter time.
Coach Josh Bode said scrapping for wins on down days did plenty for the side moving forward.
‘‘Being 6-0 is good, but we’re more happy we’ve won some close games and been able to come from behind when we’ve needed to,’’ Bode said.
‘‘Strathmerton in round one headed us and we got going again, and even against Blighty they came at us and we were able to steady.’’
The Roos’ weapons, as Brown outlined, are immense, and in form.
‘‘They’ve got a pretty good even spread, with (Aaron) Purcell and (Brody) Lumbar, as well as the Kerrs, the Mays and (James) Gilligan in really good form,’’ Brown said.
‘‘The bigger ground is a good challenge, it’s a fair sized ground and we’ll have to work harder in the midfield to cover it.
‘‘You don’t want to get too wide because it’s a long way back in, but I think we’ve got good cover from our half-backs and midfielders.’’
Waaia itself boasts plenty of match-winning talent, with the twin terrors up forward, Brown and Charlie Burrows, kicking 51 goals between them this season, while Shayne Lynch is also in sizzling touch.
It will be the biggest encounter of the season so far and Brown could not hide his excitement.
‘‘There was a really good vibe at training (on Tuesday night), we had 31 guys there,’’ he said.
‘‘For the twos, it’s a top of the table clash as well, so we’re really excited for the challenge — I’m sure Deni is pretty excited as well.’’
Picola United v Katamatite
Picola United still has not hit top form this season, but will fancy its chances of doing exactly that against Katamatite.
The Blues were always likely to bounce back in style from their loss to Blighty and put Jerilderie away by a cool 104 points.
Daniel Atkinson and Dylan Cunningham continued to show solid form with five and four goals respectively and will be ready to go to war with Katamatite’s strong defence.
Katamatite will be looking to make up for a poor third quarter in its loss to Berrigan, where it copped 13 scoring shots to just one of its own.
The Tigers’ problems are their 2-4 record and a tough run of games where they battle Strathmerton, Berrigan and Blighty after the Blues.
They will need a bag from red-hot coach Jedd Wright, who has kicked goal after goal in recent weeks.
Rennie v Mathoura
Rennie showed plenty in an eight-point loss to Deniliquin last weekend and will look to turn promise into points this weekend hosting Mathoura.
The Hoppers were right there, ahead at the final break of their loss to the Rovers before losing in a ding-dong battle.
But they lost no fans in the gallant display, encouraging they will be competitive through the rest of the season and battle for a spot in the eight.
Dean Bigger performed strongly again, as did Owen Conway and Tom Ryan, while Kris Willett and Craig Ednie carried the load up forward with five goals between them.
Mathoura enters the contest off a bye, last time out having beaten Jerilderie in a forgettable affair.
The Timbercutters won 48-32 in the round five clash and will look to push the Hoppers.
Tocumwal v Yarroweyah
For a rare occasion this season, Tocumwal enters its weekend clash as favourite, hosting struggling Yarroweyah.
Both sides have had a battle in the opening six rounds, with a combined 1-10 record, the only win Tocumwal’s 10-goal dismantling of Jerilderie.
The Bloods did all they could in a 95-point pasting against Waaia last weekend, unable to match it with the class and power of the league’s hottest side.
But Yarroweyah turned in one of its best showing in round six, beaten by 88 points at home against Katunga.
With both teams rating their chances to get a win it could be a heated affair, with Tocumwal’s performance throughout the campaign perhaps making it slight favourite.
Bloods coach Tim Garlick has been in sparkling form and will have a big say if his mob gets up.
Strathmerton v Jerilderee
You can never underestimate the heart of a champion and Strathmerton has shown exactly that this season.
Often looking down and out — particularly when three goals down at three-quarter time of a strong comeback win against Blighty last weekend — the Bulldogs have battled on and are 3-2, sitting seventh on the table with plenty left to come.
They will expect to have things more under control this weekend hosting one of the league’s true strugglers — Jerilderie.
The Demons are 1-5, losing all their games since a round one win against Yarroweyah.
Strathmerton will look for an improved attacking performance, failing to kick more than 63 points in its last three outings.
Zac Betson has been his usual self to start the season and will enjoy the Demons’ defence, while Nick Parker is putting together an overwhelming season for Jerilderie.
Berrigan v Blighty
Berrigan and Blighty will renew their rivalry this weekend in what could be a revealing round six clash.
The Saints produced their best in an intense battle with Katamatite, a blistering third term enough to gain the ascendancy and lock down the four points.
It squared their record at 3-3, heading into a sequence of games that will test their finals candidacy.
For Blighty, another statement win was followed with a let-down, dropping its game with Strathmerton from a winnable position, ahead by 18 points at three-quarter time in the two-point loss.
It meant the Redeyes slipped to 4-2, still inside the top four with a favourable stretch of games incoming.
Ryan Chadderton, Tom Druitt and Tom Billings were their best in the loss and will have to be at their best to beat the gutsy Saints.