Anything less than a finals appearance will not be satisfactory for Murchison-Toolamba coach James Milne who will see how his side shapes up this weekend with a meeting against last year’s minor premier.
Violet Town was unable to finish off the season with ultimate glory, but again will remain a Kyabram District Football League strength.
The Towners comprehensively surpassed the Grasshoppers early last year, but having not seen each other recently what the outcome will be in the new season remains up in the air.
Violet Town coach Sean Horsburgh was impressed with Murchison-Toolamba’s efforts in the back end of the season.
‘‘I’m expecting a pretty strong contest, they finished off the year well last year and troubled the top sides and even beat one (Stanhope), they’re obviously still a young side and still on the improve, but they’re a danger side,’’ Horsburgh said.
The loss to Nagambie in last year’s grand final has been the motivation for Violet Town to grow fitter and finesse its plans in the lead in to the new season.
But the Grasshoppers will have a chance to sneak a first round win as Horsburgh is without a full-strength side.
‘‘We’ve got a few missing this week with work and holidays which is a bit frustrating and not the ideal start to the season, we haven’t settled the side, but a few blokes that have been playing reserves will get an opportunity,’’ he said.
While the two sides have not seen each other since April last year, the Grasshoppers’ 61-point thrashing at the hands of the eventual grand finalists sparked a change.
‘‘It’s a huge challenge and a game we’ve been waiting for, especially because they gave us a fair touch up in round three last year which we learnt a fair bit from,’’ Milne said.
‘‘But we didn’t get the chance to have a go at them at the end of the year and I think the team progressed, so it’ll be a big test, but we’ll go in with full confidence.’’
The engine room of Sean and Pat Horsburgh as well as league medallist Sam Poole will cause all sorts of headaches and Milne will not be lumping the responsibility on one player.
‘‘Their midfield is unreal with Pat Horsburgh, Sam Poole and John Woodcock in the ruck, they’ve got a GVL midfield and with Sean Horsburgh running through the middle it’s a team effort to stop them,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re a really young team, so we’ll probably chuck the challenge to a couple of young blokes, with Patty Horsburgh it’s too hard to send one young bloke with him all day, so we’ll chop around between four or five of us.’’