By Ken Moore
NEERIM-Neerim South need to conquer a top side to answer the sceptics who think their fifth place on the ladder is largely due to a very cushy draw.
This week the Cats get the opportunity when they travel to Garfield in what is surely one of their most important games since they last played finals football way back in 2002.
At the start of the season you could write your own ticket on this match claiming match-of-the-day status however after four consecutive wins the Cats have shown a marked improvement and can be expected to take it right up to the Stars.
Interest will also revolve around how Garfield will bounce back after their first loss of the season last week to Cora Lynn. The Stars will need to keep a watch on the Urie’s Chris and Mick along with key forward Chris Redl otherwise an upset may beckon.
Based on last week’s form the Stars will need a few of its lesser lights to step up to support the likes of Tom and Ben Marsh and Brent Eastwell but at home should be tad too strong for the improving visitors.
@BT Sub Sport Gaz:LONGWARRY v cora lynn
THE Crows have had a difficult opening month having to play three of last season’s finalists in the first five rounds. and things don’t get any easier this week when they meet the undefeated Cobras.
Unfortunately the match doesn’t have the lustre of their more recent games. Cora Lynn is every bit as good as they have been in recent seasons and in contrast the Crows are doing it hard this season with only the one victory against the lowly Poowong in round four.
It is worth noting that Cora Lynn managed to win over the well performed Garfield last week with minimal input from their star recruits Balraj Singh, Beau Runnalls and Matt Robinson, which spells big trouble for the home side.
@BT Sub Sport Gaz:NILMA DARNUM v KOOWEERUP
BUOYED by their first win last week the Bombers return home this week to play the Demons. This represents a danger game for Kooweerup.
While the Darno’s do not have anywhere near the talent they had last year when they won the premiership they still possess a number of handy newcomers in Jed Costigan, Jack Tatterson and Darren Arezzolo to be more than nuisance value.
Kooweerup have won two matches but their current form is not convincing so I’ll go for an upset and tip the Bombers to make it two wins on the trot.
@BT Sub Sport Gaz:WARRAGUL INDUSTRIALS v CATANI
THE third-placed Dusties welcome the fourth-placed Blues in one of the most crucial matches of the round.
Both teams ticked all the right boxes last week which sets up an engrossing game.
The Dusties will likely have experienced Manny Peresso return which should aid their defensive rebound.
With the loss of star forward Luke James, the Blues are likely to be more one dimensional in attack with most of their forward thrusts directed to powerhouse forward Owen Fitzpatrick. He was able to help the Blues kick a winning score last week but against a team of the calibre of the Industrials he is likely to be double teamed and have his work cut out.
The Dusties are not in the sparkling form they showed for a good deal of last year but should fall over the line by around a goal in a nail biter.
@BT Sub Sport Gaz:NYORA v POOWONG
TWO under-performers, the Saints and the Magpies, will go shoulder to shoulder in a game that could easily go either way.
Nyora has lacked a potent forward in the opening month but, using the theory the Saints have had a tougher draw and may have learned a trifle more from their losses – and with their home ground advantage – Nyora should win in a close encounter.
Poowong will rue the loss of key defender Callum O’Hare to a season-ending knee reconstruction.
The best feature of the Magpies this season has been their ability to put pressure on the opposition forwards which has contributed to an exceptionally high number of behinds (91) kicked against them.
@BT Sub Sport Gaz:ELLINBANK v LANG LANG
RILED by losing four match points at the hands of the league executive last time they played at home, due to their coach having no accreditation the Bankers will be fired up when they host Tigers.
If the Bankers play to their optimum level they will be a difficult adversary, but until they can do this for a whole match instead of a just few quarters it is hard not to tip Lang Lang.
Coming off the bye the Tigers should be prepared and fresh and they showed enough spirit in their last outing against the Demons in round four to suggest a victory is well within their grasp.
@BT Sub Sport Gaz:BUNYIP v BULN BULN
THE Bulldogs tee off against the Lyrebirds. While it’s early in the season the loser can almost certainly kiss goodbye to their final hopes. Both have disappointed this season.
In defence of the Lyrebirds, three close losses have tarnished their win-loss ratio while Bunyip can offer injuries this season as a setback – last week with 20 of their senior squad unavailable.
The Bulldogs struggle to kick goals but I’ve got a feeling they will pull out all stops and find a way to win in a match that will go down to wire.