Shepparton News



- By Aydin Payne

The important games continue to roll through in Kyabram District League, with another crucial topfour encounter to take place on Saturday.

Last weekend’s clash between Stanhope and Nagambie did not disappoint, with the Lions saluting by the slimmest of margins.

The third-ranked Lions are back in action with a mouth-watering away match to second-placed Avenel.

With both sides on the same amount of points, Saturday’s round 16 clash at Avenel Recreation Reserve will be will pivotal to where each outfit finishes inside the top-six.

Saturday will be the Swans’ first appearance since their win over Longwood on July 10.

The club was scheduled to play Rushworth last weekend, however, the Tigers were unable to field a side.

Avenel playing coach Kasey Duncan said his side, which will be without more than halfa-dozen Melbourne-based players, were looking forward to getting out on the park.

“We have got a fair few players in Melbourne, so the past few weeks have been about trying to support them,” Duncan said.

“And for the boys up here, we will make sure that we’re prepared for this weekend against Stanhope. I know everyone is looking forward to getting out and having a kick.”

Duncan said the Swans would lean on the club’s depth of senior and reserves footballer­s.

He said Cael McCarthy and Nick Goodwin would return from injuries, while Kial Crowe and Grant Hately come in for their first senior games in 2021.

But they come up against a redhot Stanhope which stormed home with five last-quarter goals to beat the reigning premier.

“They’ll be fit and no doubt Patto has them well-drilled. They’ve got a very even spread of performers,” Duncan said.

“We know they are a good side; we’re expecting a close and tough game. But I have full faith in our boys and we know we need to back our style of play in.”

Speaking after his side’s thrilling come-from-behind win over Nagambie, Lions co-coach Mark Patten expected another gruelling challenge against Avenel.

“We have got another huge game ahead of us next weekend,” Patten said.

“They have been inside the top two all season and we know they will be tough at home.”

The match-of-the-round is one of five contests on Saturday, with Tallygaroo­pna, Undera, Girgarre, Longwood and Rushworth having the bye.

In the remaining fixtures, there is an eliminatio­n final-like feeling brewing out at Mount Major.

Dookie United will play host to Murchison-Toolamba in a bid to keep their finals aspiration­s alive.

The Thunder sit in eighth spot and are one win behind sixth-placed Merrigum.

A win would all but guarantee a spot in finals action for the Hoppers.

Shepparton East plays host to Merrigum, while Lancaster takes on Ardmona and Nagambie is at home to seventh-ranked Violet Town.

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