Cup and finals spots on the line in crunch match

July 15, 2017

IT WON’T be just the Three Jacks Trophy up for grabs when Echuca United and Moama Football Club clash at Echuca South Recreation Reserve tomorrow.

Positions on the Murray league ladder will be hanging in the balance with fourth, fifth and sixth equal on points.

United has held ladder supremacy over Moama since round four but that could all change if the Mowers can produce the same results from round two.

A lot can change in three months with coach Mark Lloyd saying United was now the more in form side of the two.

‘‘United are playing really good footy at the moment meaning we’re expecting a more even contest (tomorrow),’’ Lloyd said.

‘‘They knocked off Barooga not long ago and have the home turf advantage so while we’ll go in quietly confident we’re taking nothing away from the way United’s been playing.

‘‘We’ve got a tough ride home so we’ll be looking to take the wins where we can to progress up the ladder and cement our spot come finals.’’

The bye had come at the perfect time for the Mowers with the potential of getting back more players from their injury list.

Ben Welch, Michael Sage and Jake Hare could all make a return this week if they got through last night’s training, while Dylan Pinney and Zac Cockayne recent form in reserves had them also pushing for selections.

‘‘It’s putting a lot of pressure on our senior list,’’ Lloyd said.

‘‘Body and injury wise the boys are all starting to come together which is great this time of the year.

‘‘Cooper Barber, Noah Wheeler and Jack McHale will all be pushing for Pioneers selections which means we might be missing them again this week.’’

United coach Guy Campbell was confident of having his best side out on the park and was expecting a different outcome from their second round encounter.

‘‘We’re a totally different side from when we last played them, just as they’re an improved side also,’’ he said.

‘‘It’ll be a different standard of game.

‘‘Our ability to come together as a team, adapt to a new game plan and style and then put that into four solid quarters of footy has all combined to see us playing the way we are presently.

‘‘We know Tyler Jones will be a difficult player to stop up forward, but when you look at their entire list there’s a lot of good footballers — it’s surprising to see them as far down the ladder as they are.’’

Campbell hoped the club produced a good day overall, starting with the under 14s to bring home the Three Jacks Trophy.

‘‘Of course you’re focused on winning your game, but it’s important to take interest in how everybody else has fared throughout the day,’’ Campbell said.

‘‘I think Moama would be surprised by some of our results this season; they probably wouldn’t have given us much chance going into a few of our games.

‘‘But we have our concerns about them also and it should make for a pretty good game.’’

■ TONGALA will take on the benchmark of the competition for a second time as it heads to Nathalia Recreation Reserve tomorrow.

The Blues were again undermanned with Mark Watson re-injuring his knee in the previous clash against Echuca United.

Despite his best efforts in rehabilitation he’ll be watching from the sidelines as the club looks to its reserves players to fill the spot.

With finals now out of reach, coach Travis Edwards said they were focusing on club structures, game plan adjustments and individual improvements for the remaining six rounds.

‘‘Our effort and intensity was okay against Echuca United,’’ Edwards said.

‘‘But we have enormous room for improvement on our kicking efficiency, whether it be through the midfield or conversion up forward.’’

‘‘We hope to take an enthusiastic and refreshed young side into this game against powerhouse Nathalia.’’

Edwards said it was a good challenge to face one of the best as the reigning premier looked to re-stamp its authority on the competition after slipping to second on the ladder.

Other teams are starting to bridge the gap between the top side who endured two close games leading into the bye — United getting within two goals of the Purps and Deniliquin Rams just eight-points away from snagging a win.

‘‘Nathalia is well coached, play a good team style and are a club that Tongala has complete respect for and has learned a lot from in recent years,’’ Edwards said.

He tipped two of his youngest stars to have an impact in tomorrow’s game.

‘‘Riley Cowley was back to his best electrifying form last week and I anticipate he will finishing the season in a strong way,’’ he said.

‘‘And Bailey Cox is enjoying a change of position, I’ve thrown him into the backline recently and it’s a task he has embraced with enthusiasm as he continually improves his game.’’

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