Wres­tle for fi­nal po­si­tion

MATCH SET TO BE TOUGH, PHYS­I­CAL EN­COUNTER

Shepparton News - - SPORT - By Tyler Ma­her

Nathalia found his­tory means noth­ing last week when its run of 16 finals vic­to­ries in a row was brought to a grind­ing halt by ri­val Nu­murkah.

And coach Craig Kel­low knows his charges must im­prove if they are to wres­tle a grand fi­nal spot from the hands of another team starved of suc­cess.

‘‘It’s al­ways a tough, phys­i­cal en­counter when we play Ba­rooga,’’ he said.

‘‘They’re a good side with some real top-lin­ers so we’re go­ing to have to be bet­ter than we were last week.’’

The Pur­ples were smashed in the mid­dle by the Blues when it counted last week and will be look­ing to rec­tify the poor show­ing to­day at Scott Oval.

‘‘If you have the ball in your hands you con­trol the game,’’ Kel­low said.

‘‘The fo­cus for us is to try and lock it in and win the mid­field bat­tle; it will be the key to get­ting the ball to our for­wards and al­low­ing them to kick a win­ning score.’’ Mad scram­ble:

Nathalia will sweat on the avail­abil­ity of ball-win­ners Ricky Barnes and for­mer Shep­par­ton United cap­tain Ryan But­ler un­til the last minute, with the pair given every chance to prove their fit­ness.

‘‘It will be hing­ing on train­ing to be hon­est, hope­fully they can both get up,’’ Kel­low said.

‘‘We’re hope­ful that they can, ob­vi­ously that will give us some se­lec­tion dilem­mas but with a bit of luck we’ll have close to a full list to choose from.’’

If ei­ther man does not play, the Pur­ples will rely heav­ily on the height of for­wards Brodie Ross (66 goals), Brett Val­len­der (54) and Liam Evans (22), as well as tall goal-kick­ing mid­fielder Bailey Bell (42) and ruck duo Ja­son Lim­brick and cap­tain Jar­rod Maskell.

‘‘I think if we go with a taller type for­ward line it will be im­por­tant to get it to those guys,’’ Kel­low said.

‘‘I cer­tainly do think we have a height ad­van­tage at times in par­tic­u­lar po­si­tions and we prob­a­bly just need to get our ro­ta­tions right and get the ball into the guys in the right man­ner.’’

Nathalia won the only match be­tween the sides this sea­son by 17 points in round nine and must repli­cate the gritty per­for­mance.

Nathalia’s Ricky Barnes has been in a race against time in an at­tempt to line up against Ba­rooga to­day.

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