THERE will be more than just bragging rights on the line when West Gambier travels to Island Park for its clash with Casterton Sandford tomorrow in Round 12 of Western Border football.
Both sides are desperate to return to their winning ways after they suffered disappointing defeats last week and can not afford another lapse if they are to remain in their respective positions on the ladder.
The Roos’ stunning nine-match winning streak came to a crashing end against the same opposition which inflicted their previous defeat back in round one – East Gambier.
The ladder leaders will be focused on letting their rivals know it was just a slight hiccup, rather than a sign of things to come.
The Cats also went down in Saturday’s windy conditions to rivals South Gambier at Blue Lake Sports Park.
Casterton Sandford had the opportunity to snatch the lead in the closing stages, but missed chances in front of goal saw the two points and the vital fourth spot on the ladder, blow into the distance.
It was the Cats’ third loss on the trot and they must now win at least two of their remaining five fixtures for a hope of playing a role in September.
Casterton Sandford coach Hamish Jarrad will turn to his star trio of Dylan Ayton, Will Macdonald and Tom Sullivan to lift his side in front of the home crowd.
Ayton has been a clear stand out inside the 50-metre arc with consistent goals all year and has shown a strong presence around the ground.
The tall and intimidating figure of Macdonald has also had his fair share of majors and his skills are a key-component of the Cats’ game plan.
But he did not have the impact he would have hoped for last week and will look to return to his game-changing best.
Sullivan provides plenty of pace through the middle and has played some strong games lately, while defender Mark Cowland and midfielder Daniel Richardson were the top performers last week.
These players must fire at all cylinders if Casterton Sandford is to land a big scalp, but in the way is a strong West line-up
hungry for revenge.
The Roos were restricted by a strong Bulldogs display last week and coach Brad Wilson will hope his team returns to its best.
West has held all the cards against the Cats this season with a 41-point win across the border in round two and a home win by a margin of 58 in the previous meeting five rounds ago.
In the recent clash, Tom and Sam Zeitz cleaned up and controlled the backline to lead the victory charge.
Brother Jordan has also displayed solid form throughout the season and the Zeitz trio will be a challenging proposition for the Victorian opponents.
Star midfielder Lawry Bradley-Brown has been a class above in 2019, but he will want to return to his usual high standards after an under-par game.
A positive for West last week was the performance of forward Garret Ha.
The live-wire in front of goal returned with two majors and a best-on-ground effort and he will hope to replicate his recent form.
The Roos are stacked with quality in all departments with the likes of Ben Papps, Michael Minuzzo, Jesse Pfitzner and Jett Attard just to name a few and each player will not be satisfied with anything but the two premiership points.
A road trip across the border is never an easy task and the Cats will not allow any loose ball, but West’s talented list has proved a cut above and its superior 2019 record is proof.
The Roos have not lost successive games all year and their premiership assault should return to winning ways after a successful road trip.