Round 5 Preview
Just the two matches to be played to complete the first five rounds of the SS&A OMFNL with the other three having been played as part of the season opener round of fixtures.
For Yarrawonga it is a massive opportunity to secure its current second place on the ladder. The Pigeons are equal with four other teams on three wins.
They already have a healthy percentage break over the hunting pack and a win over the Bulldogs will further enhance that buffer.
For Wodonga it really is starting to get serious with just one win from its four matches. The narrow loss at home last week to Lavington was a savage blow to its final’s aspirations. They have made six changes to the side this week with coach Jordan Taylor selected to make his long-awaited return. Noah Bradshaw returns from Murray Bushranger duties.
The trip to Yarrawonga is the start of a crucial three week block with games against Wangaratta Rovers and Myrtleford to follow, as the Doggies try to break a thirteen year finals drought. Still no Leigh Williams or Michael Gibbons for the Pigeons, while defender Jye Cross is out, but the return of Will Sexton will add pace.
The bottom of the ladder clash at Birallee Park between Wodonga Raiders and North Albury presents a golden chance for either side to chalk up its first 2022 victory. The Raiders at times have shown some excellent ball movement, with recent games against Rovers and Corowa Rutherglen vindicating the promise within the group. After a super competitive first half at Corowa, they were blown away in the latter stages. Whilst in the game against Rovers they won the last two-and-a-bit quarters. The loss of hard running, hardworking backman Shane Munro to a knee injury is a terrible blow, with his experience and ability to carry the ball as good as any defender in the competition. The Raiders ruck combination of Isaac Muller and Mark Whitehead should allow midfielders Jarrod Hodgkin and Brad St John to dictate terms. A strength of North Albury is the half back line of Julian Hayes, Sam Azzi and Tim Broomhead, while fullback Tom Sharp and back pocket Ryan Polkinghorne always give their all. The three Gardiner brothers in Foster, Archer and Flynn have all stood up to senior football. A good start is crucial to the Hoppers hopes.
A huge contest awaits in the netball, with fifth placed North Albury taking on sixth placed Raiders – a game that will go along way to deciding fifth place come finals. North Albury hold a narrow percentage break over the Raiders – a seven goal plus victory by Raiders would see them jump into fifth place.
The Hoppers however are in tremendous form having upset defending premiers Wangaratta last week to make it three wins in a row. Many within the inner sanctum at Hopperland believe not only can the young North Albury side make finals, but even look at a top three position.
The Raiders with two wins and two losses have shown definite improvement – if they can put together four quarters of their best, they could put an end to the Hoppers winning streak.
Yarrawonga returned to its best last Saturday when they thrashed Myrtleford and will be eyeing off another big win when the Bulldogs travel down the Murray. Wodonga who will welcome back the experienced Lyndal Hilderbrand, who were on the end of a big defeat by Lavington last week. The Bulldogs up until that point had been super competitive in all other matches. A big win for Yarrawonga will see them back into second place behind Corowa Rutherglen.
Both football games and the Raiders v North Albury netball game can be viewed on Optus O&M TV live streams.