Wrestle for final position

September 16, 2017

Mad scramble: Nathalia's Ricky Barnes (right) has been in a race against time in an attempt to line up against Barooga today.Moama's Tyler Jones and Ricky Barnes scramble. Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Nathalia found history means nothing last week when its run of 16 finals victories in a row was brought to a grinding halt by rival Numurkah.

And coach Craig Kellow knows his charges must improve if they are to wrestle a grand final spot from the hands of another team starved of success.

‘‘It’s always a tough, physical encounter when we play Barooga,’’ he said.

‘‘They’re a good side with some real top-liners so we’re going to have to be better than we were last week.’’

The Purples were smashed in the middle by the Blues when it counted last week and will be looking to rectify the poor showing today at Scott Oval.

‘‘If you have the ball in your hands you control the game,’’ Kellow said.

‘‘The focus for us is to try and lock it in and win the midfield battle; it will be the key to getting the ball to our forwards and allowing them to kick a winning score.’’

Nathalia will sweat on the availability of ball-winners Ricky Barnes and former Shepparton United captain Ryan Butler until the last minute, with the pair given every chance to prove their fitness.

‘‘It will be hinging on training to be honest, hopefully they can both get up,’’ Kellow said.

‘‘We’re hopeful that they can, obviously that will give us some selection dilemmas but with a bit of luck we’ll have close to a full list to choose from.’’

If either man does not play, the Purples will rely heavily on the height of forwards Brodie Ross (66 goals), Brett Vallender (54) and Liam Evans (22), as well as tall goal-kicking midfielder Bailey Bell (42) and ruck duo Jason Limbrick and captain Jarrod Maskell.

‘‘I think if we go with a taller type forward line it will be important to get it to those guys,’’ Kellow said.

‘‘I certainly do think we have a height advantage at times in particular positions and we probably just need to get our rotations right and get the ball into the guys in the right manner.’’

Nathalia won the only match between the sides this season by 17 points in round nine and must replicate the gritty performance.

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