YOUNG SOCCEROOS TO PLAY IN SHEPPARTON
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.