Speed Field Days Mallee Football League Round 4 Preview
by Jim Gordon
HOPETOUN V JEPARIT RAINBOW
This game has suddenly come alive after Jeparit Rainbow’s outstanding win last week over reigning premiers Ouyen United following Hopetoun’s demolition of the Demons the week before. Sitting on top of the ladder, the Devils will go into the clash as warm favourites and deservedly so. Their form so far this season is very good with a first up run away win against the Tigers and then their brilliant display against Ouyen United.
Yet they will not have it all their own way. The Laker midfield, where they have class to burn, is in scintillating touch. Justin Chilver’s ruck work last week, admittedly against a very inexperienced opponent, was almost perfect and was capped off by the class and run of his midfielders Aaron Beer, Ben Marra and Lucas Edelston. It should be a better match up this week when Chilver will come up against Hopetoun’s high flying Irish experiment Anthony Kelly in what will be only his third game of Australian Rules.
Hopetoun has a class act of their own in Kain Robins. He has settled in nicely at centre half forward and is providing the Devils with a focal point in attack. If Tyler Edelsten plays on Robins, it should be a game highlight as Edelsten is a much improved player who is playing tight, tough football and has taken his own game to a new level. Deek Roberts is providing another option up forward for the Devils; he finished with four goals against the Demons. Luke Carr is doing plenty of often unnoticed hard work in the forward line and Roberts is usually around their feet to mop up.
Jeparit Rainbow’s Ashley Clugston is in red hot form. With new players Beer, Sean Bayzand and Andrew Watson in the midfield, it has allowed Clugston to play more as a half forward where he is a very good overhead mark and dangerous both in his accurate kicking and setting up goals.
James Phillip is another dangerous key forward who will need to be watched closely, especially when he gets support from Simon Clugston and Joel Schulze, Jeparit Rainbow’s other tall marking options. Hopetoun are pleased with their young Devils in the back line. They are showing plenty of maturity for their age with the leader of the pack Simon Cook doing plenty of guiding.
Hopetoun could be a couple of players down with Ben Reid still proppy on his ankle and Bryce Wellington may want to give his hamstring another week. The Lakers have no injuries from last week although they will still miss Heath Clugston and Luke Werner who may need another week.
The Lakers struggled against Hopetoun last year, but this year’s team has a harder edge to it; they have played well when they can move the ball quickly and they will test Hopetoun in this area. It will be a tough game for the Lakers against early season premiership favourites Hopetoun who should be freshened for the challenge after the bye.
If Hopetoun can shut down Ashley Clugston and if brother Heath does not play, the Devils should be able to get on top of the Lakers.
OUYEN UNITED V BEULAH
At any stage over the past two years this game would have match-of-the-day status, but not this year as the Mallee League looks to be as even and as competitive as it ever has been and Ouyen United are a mere shadow of what we have come to expect in recent years.
Missing eleven players from their flag winning 2011 side, the Demons have key personal under an injury cloud including Troy Moncur, who did not play last week, John Jackson who could be out for quite some time and Maeli Felise. This has put a lot of pressure on the few experienced players in the team and it has meant that they have had to play a lot of younger players whether they have wanted to this early in the season or not.
Beulah on the other hand, look just as strong as they were last year after bouncing back for a good win against the Cats in their last match. Looking at their list of best players on that day read like a whose who of flag-winning Beulah class: Bradley Shannon, Thomas Hallam, Riley Lehmann, Tyler Lehmann and Kim Hallam. Riley Lehmann scored seven goals on that day and throw in David King with six and it looks like the Beulah of two seasons ago.
Ouyen United may continue to battle this week with so many of their best players missing. Beulah look to have lost nothing from last year and should win this encounter away from home.
SEA LAKE NANDALY TIGERS V WALPEUP UNDERBOOL
This is another match up that looks like being well worth the price of admission. Both of these sides have recruited well over the summer, and apart from a loss by the Tigers against Hopetoun in Round One, both sides look to be in great form. Walpeup Underbool are so far undefeated and the Tigers rebounded with a good win over the Lakers two weeks ago.
The Roos have one or two injury concerns, the biggest of which is Wade Champion who went off early against the Cats. Champion will miss 8-10 weeks with a knee injury, extremely bad luck for him and the club. Hopefully he will return in the run up to the finals if the Roos make it into the top four. Champion was in match winning form this time last year and with him firing, Walpeup Underbool were looking good; when Champion went out due to injury, the Roos’ form fell away so much that they failed to make the finals.
Simon Brown is another set to miss with a leg injury, but on a more positive note, Matt Palmer is hopeful of returning from injury and he will be a handy inclusion across half forward.
Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers have a very good forward line and the Walpeup Underbool backs will need to work together as in previous weeks to make an impact. Strong running from the Roo half backs is also going to be critical. Kane Munro is in exceptional form at the moment whether playing up forward or on the ball. He’ll be one to watch this week.
The Tigers will be hoping that coach Jarrod Arentz and key forward Nathan Wight will be back this week after missing one game. Arentz’s marking and goal kicking prowess will be vital against a tight and mean Walpeup Underbool backline.
Troy Ferrier had a day out last week with seven goals from a half forward flank and on ball. Luke Martin also played well in his new role at centre half forward kicking three. Other to come under regular notice were veteran Col Durie, Matt Elliott and Karl Bibby. Congratulations to James Summerhayes who made his senior debut, playing well and kicking two goals.
In what should be a great game, Walpeup Underbool may have too much talent across the ground for the inform Tigers at Sea Lake.