NTFA division 2 2018, round 8: Magpies the ‘biggest test yet’ for St Pats

TOUGH: Experienced Magpie Jason Reeves. St Pats coach Alex Russell expects this weekend's match against Perth to be his side's toughest yet.
TOUGH: Experienced Magpie Jason Reeves. St Pats coach Alex Russell expects this weekend's match against Perth to be his side's toughest yet.

One winning streak will be broken this weekend when Perth host unbeaten league leader St Pats.

The Magpies are undefeated at home this season, which Saints coach Alex Russell puts down to Perth’s newly-claimed status as competition heavyweights. 

“We probably rate Perth as one of the top three sides in the comp this year... we’re looking forward to what I expect to be a close game,” he said.

“We’ve set ourselves for this game for a few weeks now, it’ll probably be our toughest game of the year by far and it’ll be good to challenge ourselves against a top side.”

Russell will bring Josh Bellchambers in for Dan Egan, while Perth boss Damian Rhind has a squad brimming with fresh legs after the bye. 

“I prefer continuity but it’s been good for us in regards to getting a couple of little injuries right for a few of our players, so we should be nice and fresh,” Rhind said. 

UNI-MOWBRAY will look to celebrate Tim Witherden’s 200th game with a win when Alan Perrin’s side host winless Meander Valley. 

The City Eagles will be forced to make five or six changes but Perrin is confident his side will give its all for the milestone game. 

“(Witherden) has had a tremendous history with the club, it’s great to have a stalwart of the club getting that sort of memory and hopefully we can perform to the best of our abilities,” he said.

Perrin was happy to label his side as underdogs but opposite number David Manktelow said favouritism meant nothing to the Suns, who will regain Mitch Kenny and ruckman Ethan Miller.

“They’ve got a win on the board which we haven’t,” he said.

“We can’t base our game on other results they’ve had or even how we went against them last year, whoever we play we’ve got to do our game plan and the results will take care of themselves.”

LILYDALE coach Colin Lockhart has branded his side’s trip to Bridport as a “danger game” as the Seagulls look to capitalise on two close losses to top-five sides.

Bridport boss Adam Howlett will welcome Cody Kerrison and Jesse Boyce back into a side which has been boosted by the form of veteran Josh Nunn. 

“We’ve been close the last two weeks against the top sides, so we’re certainly improving and that’s all we’re asking of our guys,” Howlett said.

“We’ve worked really hard on pressure and tackling during training.”

EVANDALE will look to gear up for a run of four clashes against finals aspirants with a trip to Tamar.

Sam Bannister and James Miller will return for James Storay’s Country Eagles. 

“We’re just playing patches of footy at the minute so with a bit of luck this week we can string together four quarters of football,” Storay said.