Sport

Picola District Football League weekend preview

By Alex Mitchell

The Picola District Football League ladder will continue to take shape this weekend when red-hot Katamatite faces its biggest test of the season so far.

The Tigers will welcome Blighty to town, the Redeyes buoyant after beating Picola United at the weekend to open their season’s account.

While the Tigers have bolted to a 3-0 start, they have beaten just Jerilderie (1-3), Mathoura (1-2) and Katunga (0-4), and will be keen to send a message to the rest of the competition by beating last year’s preliminary finalist.

Katamatite coach Jedd Wright was pleased with his side’s start to the year, but knew plenty of scope for improvement existed.

‘‘When we set out on the season we were hoping to win three of our first four, at the moment we’re pretty happy with where we are sitting,’’ Wright said.

‘‘Obviously we are still jelling, but on the weekend (in a 75-point win against Katunga) I felt we took a real step forward with the way we moved the ball.

‘‘It was disappointing we didn’t kick straight because we missed a real opportunity to put up a big score. Hopefully we continue that at training and continue to move the ball well.’’

And, while Blighty had made a stuttering start to its campaign, Wright said the weekend’s win against United showed exactly what it was capable of.

‘‘Internally, we really rate Blighty, they lost a couple in the off-season, but they’ve still got a lot of class,’’ Wright said.

‘‘We expect a really tight match. We probably just want to manage our turnovers a bit going forward, a bit more polish and composure with the ball.’’

While many have shone to start the year, leading the way for the Tigers have been defender Pat Riordan and forward Brodie McDonald — Wright praised their form.

‘‘(Riordan) brings a lot to the team, particularly his leadership and the way he sets an example,’’ he said.

‘‘He’s playing off half-back and really intercepting well, but his best asset is when he has the ball he doesn’t waste it.

‘‘(McDonald) started a little bit slow, but he makes a big difference. He always presents well and it’s just a matter of us delivering the ball well.’’

Blighty suffered a huge blow during the weekend’s win with defender Louis Clarke downed with a knee injury, that has the potential to keep him out for the season.

But it will look to the continued good form of Judd Barnes, Sam Singleton and Tanner Robertson as it searches for consecutive wins.

Mathoura v Katunga 

Riding high from its first win of the season, Mathoura will look to double down when it takes on Katunga.

The Timbercutters proved far too good for Jerilderie, winning by 40 points to move to 1-2 for the season.

They will fancy their chances of making it two on the trot against the Swans, who are yet to find a win this campaign in four starts.

‘‘It’s about building what we’ve started. Katunga will certainly be competitive, but we’re confident of picking up another four points,’’ Mathoura coach Darcy Robinson told the Riverine Herald.

‘‘If we can play on a similar level we will certainly be difficult to beat.’’

While 0-4, the Swans have fought hard throughout their games, but were blown away by Katamatite to the tune of 75 points.

Tyler Dunn, Josh Howden and Dylan Sidebottom are in good form, but will need plenty of help to grab a maiden win.

Picola United v Berrigan 

Picola United’s up-and-down start to the season will need to be addressed soon if the Blues want to make the top four, and they have a serious challenge this weekend in the form of Berrigan.

The Saints are riding high after upsetting Strathmerton and seem firmly poised in the league’s premiership picture, 3-1 now and looking to add to that against the Blues.

Tom and Jake Beams are in hot form for the Saints along with Mark McQualter, a balanced spread of weapons making the side an increasingly dangerous proposition.

For United, it is yet to show exactly what it is capable of this season, winning against Katunga and Mathoura yet falling to Jerilderie and Blighty.

With Berrigan and then Rennie on the menu, it is staring down the barrel of a 2-4 start, which would make qualifying for top eight at least a minor challenge.

Rennie v Strathmerton 

Two of the Picola District league’s big dogs will wrestle it out at Rennie when the Hoppers battle Strathmerton in a match that could literally be anything.

Each enters the game with a 3-1 record and sit fourth and second respectively on the ladder, each having asserted themselves as one of the premiership fancies.

The Hoppers won well at the weekend to make it three wins on the run, proving too strong for the Deniliquin Rovers in a 32-point triumph.

Delivering the goods was coach Craig Ednie with a two-goal display, while Chase Strawhorn and Dean Bigger continued great form.

For the Bulldogs, they will be out to make a statement after dropping their first game of the season last weekend, outgunned by Berrigan in an eight-point defeat.

Travis Down, Lewis O’Sullivan and Same Lewis are some of the Bulldogs who have started the season well.

Tocumwal v Waaia

Tocumwal has had three weeks to address the issues from its start to the season, but will have a tough time implementing much at all against red-hot Waaia.

The Bloods have not played since they were belted by 83 points against Berrigan on April 19, their second straight loss after falling to Rennie by a whopping 140.

Avoiding a similar scoreline will be the main aim when facing the 4-0 Bombers who are currently beating teams for fun.

They smashed Yarroweyah by 101 points, with Charlie Burrows, Jesse Trower, Dylan Cornick and Mat O’Dwyer some of the stars.

For Tocumwal, Trent Boglis has hit the ground running, with Sam Rennie and Robbie Hermann also impressing..

It would take something out of this world for the Bloods to beat the Bombers, particularly going off last year’s form, where Waaia won both games by a combined 282 points.

Yarroweyah v Deni Rovers

Yarroweyah will be looking to improve on last weekend’s 101-point loss to Waaia when it battles the Deniliquin Rovers.

The Hoppers were thoroughly outplayed by the premiership favourite, but will be hoping they can match it with the 2-2 Rovers this weekend.

‘‘We go in to win every game, we need to improve our competitiveness around the centre of the ground and be better in the contest for the ball,’’ Hoppers coach Geoff Benson told the Cobram Courier..

The Rovers battled hard against Rennie in a 32-point loss, but could not find a way to the upset.

‘‘Rennie’s commitment to the footy was outstanding and they were clearly more switched on than we were early,’’ Rovers’ coach Josh Bode told the Pastoral Times.

‘‘People were saying we were having a bad day, but you have to give the credit to Rennie and just how well they played.’’