Round 2 Preview
The weather gods are once again delivering on another magnificent spring day for the preliminary final action on Sunday at Birallee Park in Wodonga.
The football preliminary final will be a replay of the 2017 and 2018 grand final decider when Albury take on Wangaratta.
While in netball action it will be minor and defending premier Yarrawonga who will have to beat the much improved and in-form Wodonga Raiders.
The Magpies have a huge task ahead if they are to make a return to the Lavington Sportsground where they defeated Yarrawonga in the 2022 decider.
Michael Newton who was a late withdrawal from last weeks semi final win over Wodonga is back in the side and will be hoping to repeat his five goal haul from the qualifying final Albury.
The Magpies will also strongly consider promoting tall youngster Xavier Laverty who has returned from injury in recent weeks and been in excellent form.
George Horlin-Smith who was also a late withdrawal last Saturday has been selected, while Michael Duncan has been named an emergency as he battles a hamstring complaint.
The wide spaces of Birallee Park should produce a fast-running contest with both sides having pace to burn with Albury midfield running slightly deeper in depth.
Elliot Powell, Jake Gaynor, Jake Page and Jimmy Grills will be hard to catch if they can get space. Fraser Ellis was outstanding for Wangaratta last week and his battle with Page will be crucial.
Cal Moore is due for a big goal haul after a few quieter finals, while at the other end, one gets the same feeling that Jacob Conlan could do likewise.
In the early games, it will be a Wangaratta Derby in the thirds with minor premier Rovers losing last week to Lavington for the first time this season.
The Magpies pulled off a stunning 4-point win over Raiders at Bunton Park and will give Rovers coach Ben Talarico plenty to contemplate in what should be a thriller.
Lavington seconds were also another victim of the minor premiers curse when Albury overpowered them last week – they will take on the experienced and tough Pigeons.
What odds a month ago that the netball preliminary final would see fifth-placed Raiders take on the ladder leaders Yarrawonga – you would have got huge odds!
Raiders along with Lavington have lit up the finals series with the Raiders just going from strength to strength as the Jodie House team gains confidence with every outing.
It is a mouth-watering clash with the experienced finals combatants Yarrawonga set to react swiftly to the prospect of missing a grand final spot.
The inclusion of Mia Lavis into the Raiders side has given it so many options with her work alongside Emily Stewart being a huge part of the Raiders’ rise.
Yarrawonga lost Sarah Moore early in last week’s match as the veteran went off at the five-minute mark of the first quarter with a leg complaint. Her presence in attack will be vital in Yarrawonga bouncing back.
Hannah Symes and Mylah Kennedy were outstanding for Yarrawonga last week. The Pigeons were slow to start last week and expect to see them come out a lot hotter this week.
It will be a Wodonga derby in B Grade with the much improved Bulldogs brimming with confidence after beating Wangaratta last week, while Raiders lost to Yarrawonga.
North Albury after a narrow loss to Yarrawonga will take on Myrtleford in C Grade, the Saints won an epic extra time stoush against Wangaratta last Sunday.
The Under 17’s will see Raiders keen to take on Wodonga in the Grand Final after losing by a goal last Saturday, to do this they must beat Magpies who thrashed Wangaratta Rovers last Sunday.
The first game on Sunday will see the Raiders up against North Albury with Raiders having beaten the Hoppers narrowly both times this season.
C Grade and Under 17’s games will be played at the same time with both courts at Birallee Park being used. The A Grade game commences at 12.15.