Shepparton News - - FRONT PAGE - By Lauren Bordin

Shepparton East has one left in its bid to win back-to-back Picola District Foot­ball League south­east pre­mier­ships.

Hav­ing gone down to Ren­nie in last week’s qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal, the Ea­gles meet Waaia on Sun­day at the Grasshop­pers’ home ground.

With East boast­ing a more con­sis­tent run of form, coach Dwain Vi­dler and his play­ers are not down­play­ing the im­por­tance of the match.

‘‘It’s ob­vi­ously a mas­sive game for both of us, it’s an elim­i­na­tion fi­nal and nei­ther side is go­ing to leave too much be­hind,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s def­i­nitely pres­sure with an elim­i­na­tion fi­nal and if any­one says there’s noth­ing to lose, then both teams are kid­ding them­selves, we know what’s at stake.’’

The side has quickly moved on from last week’s six-goal ca­pit­u­la­tion to Ren­nie.

‘‘In a fi­nal there’s no point dwelling on it, ev­ery­one was there so now we just have to do what we have to do,’’ Vi­dler said.

With the Grasshop­pers’ pres­sure help­ing them win the bat­tle through the cen­tre of the ground, Vi­dler was hope­ful his side could take con­trol of the mid­field sup­ply and cre­ate more scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

De­spite just 19 shots to Ren­nie’s 30, star Cobey Ayns­ley still kicked five goals as Stephen Burns, Bren­dan Scott and David Gille­spie showed fight in the loss.

Nathan Barolli re­joins the side hav­ing re­cov­ered from a ham­string in­jury to be a ma­jor in­clu­sion in de­fence, with Joey Perkovic´ in doubt with a quadri­ceps strain.

Waaia’s run has been much more sim­ple, crush­ing Katunga in the elim­i­na­tion fi­nal.

But life will not be as easy for the Bombers this week with Char­lie Bur­rows need­ing to fire in the for­ward line if his side is to move for­ward.

● Plenty of Tungamah play­ers took the week off to re­cu­per­ate and their re­freshed bod­ies will be needed when the Bears take on an in-form Ren­nie.

But it was not to­tal re­lax­ation with se­nior coach Jeremy O’Brien hav­ing his play­ers train four times dur­ing the break.

‘‘It prob­a­bly suits some play­ers and doesn’t suit oth­ers, for the older guys it works well and for the younger play­ers it’s a bit dif­fer­ent and they like to keep play­ing, but we’d cer­tainly pre­fer to have it off than on,’’ he said.

The Grasshop­pers were sim­ply su­perb against Shepparton East in a team ef­fort they will be look­ing to repli­cate.

O’Brien was look­ing for­ward to yet an­other match against their ri­vals with both in peak form.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously they’re play­ing some good footy, but we’re in the same boat, our last month has been pretty good,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got a clean bill of health, ba­si­cally round 18 was the first time for the whole year that we had the abil­ity to pick our best side.’’

A solid per­for­mance from the back six will be cru­cial with both sides not lack­ing in scor­ing power.

Ren­nie has 10 play­ers with goal­kick­ing tal­lies in dou­ble fig­ures for the sea­son, with Chase Staw horn lead­ing the pack by av­er­ag­ing 4.5 goals a game.

‘‘We’re go­ing to re­ally need to be ac­count­able, they’ve got some top-end play­ers that you need to make sure you limit their im­pact on the game and take our op­por­tu­ni­ties when we get them,’’ O’Brien said.

But O’Brien’s side boasts just as much prow­ess via his own con­tri­bu­tion as well as the likes of Matthew Clark, Duane Hae­bich and Ash Saunders.

Hop­ing for a win: Hav­ing pro­duced a solid game in last week’s loss to Ren­nie, Shepparton East de­fender Stephen Burns will be keen to repli­cate that per­for­mance, but record a dif­fer­ent re­sult, against Waaia in Sun­day’s first semi-fi­nal.

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