IT will be an intense fight when East Gambier crosses the border to play Casterton Sandford at Island Park tomorrow in round 14 of the Western Border Football League season.
The Bulldogs need a win to stay in touch for minor premiership contention, while the Cats are hungry for the two points to maintain their narrow finals position over South Gambier.
The Victorians will be desperate to cause another upset victory over a top-three side in home conditions after they stunned West Gambier a few rounds ago.
Much like the Roos, the Bulldogs have enjoyed the advantage with two solid wins over the Cats this season.
But Casterton Sandford is an improved side and has peaked at the right time.
Since the Cats’ disappointing defeat to South Gambier, they have shot up into the top four.
Casteron Sandford suddenly look to be a force which can not be underestimated.
Star duo Will Macdonald and Dylan Ayton have been in irresistible form recently.
In the midfield, Daniel Richardson produces much-needed run and carry, as does Tom Sullivan.
Another big improver has been Kyle Carlin with five goals and a couple best-on-ground appearances in his last three outings.
Playing coach Hamish Jarrad will hope his side can continue to use the confines of Island Park to its advantage, but knows it will be a tall order against an East outfit which has a strong record at the venue.
The Bulldogs have also peaked lately and were on a four-match winning streak, but it came to a crashing end last week against a spirited North side.
Despite the loss to the Tigers, a big positive was the performance of electric forward Giancarlo Cooper.
He was the clear stand out as the only player to kick straight more than once with five goals to his name.
Due to suspension and injury, playing coach Matt Willson has been out of action for the past month and will be champing at the bit to lead his troops into battle again if he is fit.
If he plays, he will join the likes of Frazer Scanlon, Jayden Eldridge, Mark Rumbelow, Nick Lock and Matt Scanlon, who all have the ability to change a match off their own boot.
The result may come down to the effectiveness of Casterton Sanford’s tackling pressure in slowing down East’s quick transitions inside 50.
With a win so high on the agenda for both sides, fans should be treated to an enthralling match.