Tahs take de­pleted side into Bat­tle of Beaches

Sunday Territorian - - SPORT - GREY MOR­RIS

TER­RI­TORY foot­ball’s Bat­tle of the Beaches takes on extra im­por­tance to­day when the sec­ond and third placed sides on the Pre­mier League lad­der go in search of four pre­mier­ship points.

Night­cliff is two games and 31 per­cent­age points ahead of beach­side ri­val Waratah, and will start favourite on its own turf at PSC BM Oval.

But sec­ond-year Tigers’ boss Chris Baksh knows the red-and-white jumpers will come to play when the 4pm game gets un­der­way.

“It’s why we’re look­ing for­ward to the Waratah chal­lenge, they’ve shown they can play some good footy, mak­ing it all the more im­por­tant we fo­cus on our game,’’ he said.

“But Tahs are a dan­ger­ous side and they’re well coached, so we have to be on our game.’’

Half of Waratah’s suc­cess­ful ruck setup will be miss­ing to­day, with New York gi­ant Alex Aur­ri­chio out of the side, leav­ing the big-leap­ing Zach Wester­berg to carry the load.

Justin Beuge­laar’s ab­sence in the back half and Sam Wed­dell up for­ward will also hurt Tahs, who beat Night­cliff in their Round 3 clash at Gar­dens Oval.

Night­cliff will only have half of the Butcher boys, with goal­kicker John un­avail­able but hard work­ing on-baller Danny – one of his side’s best in the win over Wan­der­ers last week – will start this af­ter­noon’s game.

The Night­cliff mid­field of Faron James, Shaun Wil­son and Jonathan “Boyo’’ Peris in com­pany with fol­lower Phillip Wills will give them plenty of drive.

That means the goal­kick­ing will be left in the hands of the com­pe­ti­tion’s lead­ing goal­kicker Trent Melville and smart movers Liam Holt-Fitz and Michael Hagan, the for­mer Buf­falo.

Much in­ter­est will cen­tre on the ruck du­els.

Tigers Jonno Miles and Hugo Dro­gemuller will go in against Wester­berg to de­cide who gets their hands on the foot­ball.

Pic­ture: JUSTIN KENNEDY

Waratah's Zach Wester­berg (leap­ing, left) will play a cru­cial role for his team against the Tigers to­day

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