Sport

Whole new ball game for United

by
April 12, 2018

Dookie United's Andrew Nicolson has had a stellar pre-season.

Steve Reeves exited the Kyabram District Football League last year to join his family in the Picola District league.

As fate would have it the new Dookie United coach has found himself back in the league he coached at an interleague level, raring to get started with a match against Rushworth.

But despite all the disturbance Dookie’s move from the PDFNL caused the club, Reeves said the side was well-prepared.

‘‘It’s been a while coming, we were sort of ready a fortnight ago to play footy, but all things being equal all I can do is keep the focus on footy for the senior group,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s the right decision for the club going forward.’’

United is every chance to gather a win in its first match in the new league as it travels away to face the Tigers.

Andrew Nicolson, Will Patone and Brodie Gook are set for a solid season after being standouts on the track, while recruit Luke O’Sullivan has emerged as the player Reeves hoped he would be.

‘‘He’s going to be a good acquisition on the half-back/wing area, he’s six foot three and he’s been really good.’’

Patone has had an injury-free pre-season and his prowess in the forward line will cause all sorts of headaches for the new-look Tigers.

‘‘I know Rushworth has obviously lost some quality players and gained some quality players, but they’ll be a bit like us and will have a few out on Saturday and will be a bit of an unknown,’’ Reeves said.

United will play a Rushworth side that will end up being unrecognisable from the one that takes the field later on in the season.

With the Tigers scheduled the bye this week before Dookie United joined the competition, coach Dave Reardon will have 11 senior players absent due to pre-booked holidays or work.

It is a scenario that faced him in last week’s loss to Longwood as he tries to make do with what is available.

‘‘We had four of our key defenders out last week and blokes that hadn’t played there filled the gaps, we did the best we could to try and not lose by too much in the end given that we didn’t have seven senior players,’’ Reardon said.

But the coach will try and instil some basics in his side before a more settled line-up comes to the fore after the interleague break in mid-May.

‘‘We’re still getting to know each other and we noticed on the weekend that 18 of the players hadn’t played together and there were only three blokes that had played together last year, so you do what you can,’’ Reardon said.

‘‘We’ll get everyone back on the paddock after interleague and if we can get a couple of wins on the board between then that’s a bonus.’’

Lancaster v Violet Town

Lancaster will be swiftly brought back to reality this weekend when it hosts last year’s Kyabram District Football League grand finalist Violet Town.

The Wombats cruised past Ardmona in the opening game of the season, 235 points the victor.

While Chris Eddy kicked a bag of nine and a whopping 15 players got on the scoreboard there will not be that much freedom against the Towners.

Sean Horsburgh’s side warmed into the season last week with a 30-point defeat of Murchison-Toolamba and there were plenty of positive signs from the grand finalists.

Having to cover the loss of Rob Staff, Jake Cowman and Lochlan Morrison snagged two goals each as the Towners continue to develop scoring from midfielders.

With so much class on Violet Town’s list still, the Wombats could find it difficult to keep up.

Murchison v Avenel

Avenel is a side on a mission after going down by a goal against Merrigum last week.

The Swans produced a scintillating opening half, but could not finish the game off the way it started and will be out to avoid a repeat of that this weekend.

Despite the narrow loss recruit Michael Tinkler was sensational as he racked up possessions early and aims to keep this form going as a highly touted player.

Mathew Hurley and Paul Arandt started the season with flair, but the Swans need to find a way to score more prolifically if they are to put their first win on the board.

The Grasshoppers could not quite match Violet Town last week, but Ashton Cashion showed he has taken his prowess into another season.

With Murchison-Toolamba’s scoring also stifled, there will not be much deciding this match which is likely to be a low scoring affair.

Ardmona v Girgarre

It is fair to say there’s no shortage of things to work on for Ardmona stemming from a tough round one.

The Cats copped a 235-point beating against Lancaster, allowing 16 individual goal-kickers in the one-sided contest.

Girgarre was also on the wrong end of a hiding, but only went down by 95 to Stanhope.

Last season’s eighth-placed finishers will be looking to make up for the disappointment in what is a good chance to open their account this year.

The teams didn’t meet last year after Ardmona’s side dropped down to the reserves.

In a tough situation last week, the Cats’ leaders Brent and Andrew Ralph and playing coach Luke Trevena stood up and their side will need them again this weekend to be more competitive.

For Girgarre, Shaun Ross jagged two goals last weekend and will be looking for plenty more, while Jake Hyland and Greg Potter were among the standouts.

Merrigum v Longwood

Two of round one’s big winners will go head-to-head on Saturday when Merrigum and Longwood meet.

The Bulldogs shocked the footballing world last weekend beating last year’s preliminary finalist Avenel in an entertaining affair.

After recording just three behinds in the first half, they sprung to life in the second, storming home with five goals in the last term to complete a sensational comeback.

But they will need to produce four quarters of their best against Longwood, which looked strong in a confident win against Rushworth.

Ben and Anthony Tautala kicked three each in the 26-point win, the Redlegs looking much improved from last year’s version where they only won two games.

Merrigum gave Longwood a 68-point touch up in round 10 last year and will be looking for a similar showing in the clash at Merrigum Recreation Reserve.

Tallygaroopna v Stanhope

Stanhope’s trip to Tallygaroopna is shaping up as an early season blockbuster.

Many are calling the contest a potential grand final preview, given both sides’ phenomenal performances in round one.

The Redlegs put the competition on notice with a 77-point hammering of Nagambie, while the Lions went one better, hitting the ground running with a 95-point dismissal of Girgarre.

It’s a second straight huge match for Tally after knocking off the reigning champions, with coach Kevin O’Donoghue again looking for big things from gun recruit Mitch Sidebottom.

But it will have plenty of work to do closing down a ferocious Lions’ line-up that had 11 individual goal-kickers last weekend in a showcase of its attacking arsenal.

The sides finished third and fourth respectively last season and will renew their rivalry at Tallygaroopna Recreation Reserve in a highly anticipated affair.

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