Picola United will get its chance to announce itself as a bona fide Picola District Football League premiership contender when it hosts Waaia on Saturday.
Two of the league’s most dangerous sides, the Picola Recreation Reserve contest will reveal plenty about the entire competition.
The Blues might boast last season’s north-west division premiership, but they have not reached the heights the buoyant Bombers have this year and will be out to prove they are in their class.
At 6-1, United is third on the table heading into one of the biggest games of the season so far and coach Jon Varcoe was pleased with the platform his side had built.
‘‘We’re in a reasonable position, we probably haven’t played our best for four quarters yet and we’re building towards doing that,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘It’s a long season, so we’re looking to win enough games to qualify in a high position and play our best football at the right time of the year.’’
But while Picola’s form is good, Waaia’s is exquisite.
In compiling a 7-0 start to the season, the Bombers have cleared the 1000 points-for mark and are allowing just on 40 points a game.
‘‘Waaia will be a great challenge and one we are really looking forward to,’’ Varcoe said.
‘‘Obviously they are the form team at the moment, their scoring has been great, so it will be a game about getting control in the midfield and limiting opportunities.
‘‘Then we’ll need to capitalise on our own opportunities.
‘‘We want to be playing at our best and really trying to bring the pressure.’’
The Bombers’ list of guns is too long to list in full; Shayne Lynch is in outstanding form, while Matt Brown and Charlie Burrows continue to carve up opposition defences with 66 combined goals.
The most apparent criticism of their brilliant start is the lack of statement wins, outside of the famous seven-point win against Deniliquin a fortnight ago.
Many of their wins have been in one-sided contests, last weekend’s 135-point pumping of Mathoura a good example.
Aaron Shelton was one of the Bombers’ best in the big win, with Matt Smyth and Connor Brown also great.
United was forced to grit its teeth in last weekend’s 17-point win against Rennie, but quality up forward did the trick with Dylan Cunningham’s four goals crucial.
Blighty v Jerilderie
Blighty will be as fresh as a daisy after a hard-earned bye week and will channel its new-found energy towards beating Jerilderie on Saturday.
In their last outing against Berrigan, the Redeyes flew home with the final quarter’s only four goals to run a 13-point deficit into a 14-point win.
It moved them to 5-2 and they would be unbackable odds to beat Jerilderie this weekend.
The Demons are 1-7 and despite a dreadful percentage of 37.9, are kept off the bottom of the ladder by Yarroweyah and Mathoura.
They were brushed aside in round eight by Berrigan, beaten by 85 points in a one-sided game.
They will also head to the weekend without coach Chris Marshall who has suffered a finger injury.
Katunga v Deniliquin Rovers
Katunga will be looking to take its first major scalp of the season when it makes the daunting trip to face the Deniliquin Rovers.
The Roos have become one the league’s clear standouts in an impressive 7-1 stretch and while the Swans are sixth on the ladder, they have been much less convincing on their way to 5-2.
What the Swans can boast is a loaded forward line, led by Callum Wilson who bagged 11 of his side’s 18 goals in a 74-point win against Tocumwal.
Deniliquin though showed a similar arsenal of forward threats in a 182-point destruction of Yarroweyah, with Ricky Waters (eight goals), Aaron Purcell (seven) and Dave Smith (six) all on fire.
It will fancy its chances on home soil, but should be wary of a dangerous Swans outfit.
Mathoura v Yarroweyah
Mathoura and Yarroweyah will clash on Saturday — and with both teams a realistic chance of winning, it is going to be on for young and old.
The league’s two bottom sides have been outscored by a whopping combined 1392 points this season, but each has the chance to double its win tally this weekend.
The Timbercutters tried their hardest against Waaia last weekend, but the Bombers’ power proved too much as the game progressed, particularly in a nine goals to one final quarter bonanza.
But it was an even tougher afternoon for the Hoppers, brutalised by Deniliquin in a 182-point flogging.
A crucial factor in the contest could be the hamstring of Mathoura’s gun midfielder Jack Hughes, who went off in the Waaia loss.
Strathmerton v Rennie
Expect the unexpected when two of Picola District league’s more competitive sides face off on Saturday.
Strathmerton and Rennie each compete hard every weekend and will be keen to take four points to boost a tilt up the ladder.
The Bulldogs broke away after half-time to beat Katamatite comfortably in round eight, Zach Betson and Tom Campbell doing damage up forward in the 51-point win.
They have won their past four games to move into the top four, but will not have it easy against a never-say-die Rennie line-up.
Three of the Hoppers’ four losses have been as honourable as it gets, but to start cementing a top-eight position will need to turn good performances into wins.
Chase Strawhorn returned to Rennie last weekend with four goals.