Lake Wendouree or Sunbury? Top position up for grabs in BFL

Michael Powell makes welcome return for Sebastopol
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LAKE WENDOUREE v SUNBURY

at Wendouree Reserve, Saturday, 2.15pm

LAKE Wendouree coach Gavin Webb and his Sunbury counterpart Rick Horwood can hardly wait to cut loose their players against each other in the Ballarat Football League at Wendouree on Saturday.

And who can blame them.

Top position and premiership favouritism is up for grabs in what shapes as a genuine blockbuster – certainly the biggest match-up of the season so far.

Lake Wendouree has already played in two games offering top spot as the prize.

The unbeaten Lakers came out on top on each occasion against North Ballarat City and then Bacchus Marsh in their latest round.

While Lake Wendouree has been spruked from the outset as a premiership frontrunner, Sunbury has eased its way into contention after an astute recruiting campaign.

The Lions are unbeaten since round one and noticeably getting better as each week goes by.

“We can’t wait,” Webb said.

“It’s a 50-50 game.

“These are the tests we want.

“We’ve been lucky so.

“We’re in form and we’re at home.” he said.

Horwood said the challenge could hardly come at a better time with the midway point of the season looming.

He said it was a massively important game given the even nature of the competition.

Horwood said this game had been two years in the making for Sunbury, which spent two seasons in “survival” mode while rebuilding – scraping into the finals on each occasion before going straight out.

As well as Sunbury has recruited this season, Horwood said this year’s gradual improvement to date had been all about the growth of players in the middle bracket after two seasons of development.

He said this was the first time this group had found themselves in this type of situation – staking a claim for the ladder leadership.

This match could easily be decided in the midfield, where Sunbury is led by ruckman David Kovacevic and the impressive Alik Magin and Daniel Toman from Port Melbourne.

While Lake Wendouree does not have a dominant big man, Webb is not fazed.

And on the midfield battle at ground level: “I’d back our midfield against any midfield.”

PREDICTION: Lake Wendouree- just

​DARLEY v BALLARAT

at Darley, Saturday, 2.15pm

LAST TIME: Darley 14.8 (92) v Ballarat 9.8 (62)

DARLEY: The Devils will be without match-winner Jake Edwards, who is back with Geelong in the VFL. Pleasing though to see Ryan Coster back from a knee infection for his first game since last year’s grand final, especially on the back of news that skipper Shane Page might be facing six to seven weeks off with the likelihood of shoulder surgery. Darley’s confidence will be up after finally making a statement against North Ballarat City. This game begins a run featuring Sebastopol and Melton which should put Darley back in business.

BALLARAT: Swans coach Ash Baker is hoping his young charges can carry over the improved form they showed against Redan. He will be asking for a similar defensively-based effort against an unpredictable Darley – thinking this is a chance for another East Point moment. The Swans have lost Mitch Rodd to North Ballarat in the VFL and has promoted Steele Cox and Pat Kennedy.

PREDICTION: Darley

EAST POINT v SEBASTOPOL

at Eastern Oval, Saturday, 2.15pm

LAST TIME: East Point 27.18 (180) d Sebastopol 3.3 (21)

EAST POINT: The Kangaroos resume after a bye desperate to string some wins together after a disappointing first phase of the season. It is not an easy run though with back-to-back clashes against Lake Wendouree and Sunbury in what coach Glenn Wilkins describes as a “heavy block”. All East Point can focus on right now is getting the job done against the Burra. It has named Kristian McNicol from Wycheproof-Narraport in the North Central league for his first game since joining the club at the start of the season

SEBASTOPOL: The Burra is looking to bounce back hard from a disappointing showing against Sunbury when it scrambled just two goals. Sebastopol regains a wealth of experience – Michael Powell for just his third game after a round two hamstring injury; Tyler O’Sullivan-Kirchner for his second game after round one ankle injury; Tom Peterson (shoulder); Grady Snowden (ankle) and Ben McLeod.

PREDICTION: East Point

MELTON v REDAN

at McPherson Park, Saturday, 2.15pm

LAST TIME: Redan 29.13 (187) d Melton 2.2 (14), round 9, 2015

MELTON: The Bloods were shaken to the core by a 143-point loss to North Ballarat City. They still sit sixth, but are going to have to turn their form around dramatically to retain a spot in the the top six for much longer. They will be much better for the inclusion of BFL representative Matt Notman, and Jaycob Hickey and Mark Orr from VFL ranks

REDAN: This is not only a game it should win, it’s one the Lions need to win. Four wins in the past five outings has Redan within striking distance of the leading four, but with the next month featuring games against Bacchus Marsh, North Ballarat City and Sunbury it must take full toll of opportunities like this. Coach Eammon will also be eager to see bigger contributions from a wider spread of players, including the likes of Leigh Ryall, Dean Chester and Chris Giampaolo who return.

PREDICTION: Redan

N BALLARAT CITY v BACCHUS MARSH

at Eureka Stadium, Sunday, 2.15pm

LAST TIME: North Ballarat City 17.11 (113) d Bacchus Marsh 9.12 (66), round 12, 2015

N BALLARAT CITY: another big game with third position up for grabs. City will not be helped by the unavailability of consistently impressive duo Simon McCartin and Daniel Kilpatrick. Coach Jordyn Burke says it is important to get a win over a team from the top echelon of the competition after losses to the likes of Lake Wendouree and Darley. This is an opportunity for City to make a statement in a big game.

BACCHUS MARSH: The Cobras make only their second trip to Ballarat for the season – wanting to make amends for an early season loss to East Point. They regain back star Cam Richardson (hamstring) and Jackson Bolton (knee), which are huge inclusions. Their main focus will be on improved efficiency around goal after a highly wasteful day against Lake Wendouree. If they can get as much of the ball again, this should be their day.

PREDICTION: Bacchus Marsh

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