GVL Data | Midfield battle key

Big men battle: Echuca’s Kane Morris and Benalla’s Josh Marchbank are in for an entertaining ruck battle this weekend. Photo: Steve Huntley Photo by Steve Huntley

Ladder-leading Echuca faces Benalla (11th) in an apparent Goulburn Valley League mismatch.

According to GVL Data, however, there may be more to this clash than meets the eye, with the numbers suggesting fans could be in for an entertaining midfield battle.

For Echuca ruck duo Kane Morris and Liam Tenace they face off against, statistically, the best big man in the GVL — Josh Marchbank.

Marchbank tops the league for total hit-outs with 366, averaging 40.7 per game, and while not all may have been to advantage in a slow season for the Saints, Marchbank was a key figure in Benalla’s back-to-back wins.

Consider Marchbank’s mammoth 64-hitout game against Euroa in round eight, and the ruck duel shapes as an interesting one against Morris.

While Morris is no slouch in the air, however, its his work around the ground that has helped him become one of the GVL’s best big men, averaging six marks a game.

The battle at ground level also shapes as another intriguing clash between two leaders of the contested ball game.

Benalla star Will Martiniello leads the GVL in contested possessions with 153 this season, but not far behind is Echuca midfield bull Jack McHale with 146, who also leads the league in ground-ball gets with 131.

Both players have had no issues finding the footy either; Martiniello is averaging 31.2 disposals a game, while McHale averages 25.4.

Chris Welsh (31.7) and Echuca co-coach Andrew Walker (28) are also shaping up as big movers in the midfield this week.

Season Totals Contested Possessions

Will Martiniello (Benalla) 153

Jack McHale (Echuca) 146

Ben Rigoni (Seymour) 131

Chris Welch (Benalla) 129

Zac Banch (Shepparton Swans) 121