MDFL - The Ararat Eagles finally got reward for effort last weekend with their first victory of the Mininera and District Football League season against Woorndoo/Mortlake, but will find the going much tougher against Lismore/Derrinallum tomorrow.
Coach Nathan Wemyss said the 29-point win over the Tigers was a fantastic confidence booster for a team that only managed one victory in 2013.
"This season so far we hadn't got a win on the board and it is a very young team we have got here, so we have been trying to keep their heads up all year," he said.
"We have been playing really good patches of football, there were some really good signs there, so I kept telling the boys to stick with it. We were doing the right things, we just had to do them for longer and it really paid off on the weekend."
Wemyss said it was important the Eagles stick to their guns against the Demons at Derrinallum.
The coach is hoping his young side doesn't go back into their shell and play reactive football.
"Last weekend we had three 15 or 16 year-olds, about three 17-year-olds and a couple of 18 and 19-year-olds, so in the one-on-ones against the bigger teams you can't help but expect you are going to get beaten out sometimes, but the message is to not drop your heads," Wemyss said.
"We just need to stick with playing our style of football and not be sucked into being overawed by the opposition."
Ararat's young guns shone against Woorndoo/Mortlake, relishing the wide open spaces of Alexandra Oval.
One player that stood out was Naish McRoberts, who Wemyss said knows how to get the footy and use it and is hoping the junior talent can produce again this weekend.
"He is just a very smart footballer. He is only light in size, which is expected being under-16, but he uses his body really well in contests," he said.
"He has also got really good awareness and fantastic skills.
"The kids in general have all been impressive, Michael Naawi has come out of the juniors from last year and he shows really good composure and is prepared to take the game on, which I back him in to do.
"Ben Robertson is another one coming out of the juniors who got in the best and you can play him anywhere, he just loves his footy and is so competitive."
Moyston/Willaura will be out to defend its newly acquired top position on the ladder when the Pumas welcome Penshurst to Willaura.
The Bombers will be no easy beats for the home side and Moyston/Willaura will need to have contributors across the board if it is to make it four straight wins.
Talented player Matt Scully had an immediate impact in his first match with the Pumas last week against Caramut and will be looking to continue that form, while stalwarts Lynden Brewis and John Vanderwaal have showed great consistency in recent weeks.
Against the Swans Moyston/Willaura had four players kick three majors and it is that even spread of goal kickers that is likely to trouble Penshurst.
Hawkedale/Macarthur will need to bring its 'A game' when it hosts a rebounding Tatyoon.
The Hawks internally will be ruing their first loss of the season against the Magpies which has seen them relinquish top spot on the ladder.
The visitors will be hoping to regain the services of Damian Cameron, who was missed greatly last week.
Cameron has been in red hot form across centre halfback for Tatyoon this year and has fed lead-up players including Mitch Cronin, John Butler and Brodie Mines extremely well.
Bradd Wilson is starting to find plenty of the ball, while captain Sean McDougall continues to be hard in and under for the Hawks, which is important as the wet weather starts to roll in.
After a minor hiccup Tatyoon should have no problem getting back on the winners’ list.
Has Wickliffe/Lake Bolac given away too much of a head start on the rest of the competition?
The 2013 champions are starting to show glimpses of their potential, but with the team stuck in seventh position and a log jam of other contenders ahead of them, the Magpies can’t afford any more inconsistency.
Coach Nic Willox said earlier this week that Wickliffe/Lake Bolac must win every match from now on to make finals and it will carry that attitude into tomorrow’s clash against Great Western.
Willox will be hoping his team can use last round’s performance — its best win so far — as a springboard in the remaining rounds.
The coach has been spending more time closer to goals this season and is having a big impact, while Willox is finding good support from William Slattery and Danniel Smith.
For Great Western, BJ Burton, Lachie Malloy and Danny Grellet will carry much of the responsibility through the middle of the ground.
SM&W Rovers has the potential to claim its second win of the season against a struggling Glenthompson/Dunkeld line-up, but will be made to work over four quarters.
The Rams haven’t tasted victory since round three, losing four on the trot, and the Bulldogs will be looking to take advantage of that lack of form.
SM&W Rovers has put up a good challenge in its last two outings against the Magpies and Southern Eagles, but failed to get reward and the likes of Andrew Toan, Billie Leskosek, John Forbes and coach Joe Carmody will be working to change that trend tomorrow.
Two of the Bulldogs’ veterans in Tom Thewlis and Rhys Cahir have been relatively quiet in recent weeks, so if they can recapture the form they are capable of, then four premiership points may be heading Rovers’ way.
In the final match Caramut will take on Woorndoo/Mortlake.
Glenthompson/Dunkeld v SM&W Rovers (at Dunkeld) - David Reynolds and Tommy Cooper
Lismore/Derrinallum v Ararat (at Derrinallum) - Chris Butler (Car) and Ian Bedford
Woorndoo/Mortlake v Caramut (at Woorndoo) - Paul Spriggs (Car) and Leo Mooney