Preview: Sandringham vs North Ballarat
The North Ballarat Roosters travel to Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday hoping to avenge a 55-point loss to Sandringham in round two, as Adem Saricaoglu writes.
The game looms as potentially vital to the make-up of the final eight, with both sides looking to have a massive say come September.
The Zebras sit sixth heading into this round 16 clash, but haven’t won a game since round 11.
Their tough draw since that win over Frankston has seen them go down to Werribee, Casey and Port Melbourne, currently the top three sides on the ladder.
Sandringham assistant coach Ryan Webster said that despite losing three on the trot, the Zebras have gained confidence from their recent efforts.
“It’s been a little bit disappointing in the fact that we’ve been in the position where we could win those games, and haven’t been able to finish them off,” Webster said.
“What was probably a little disappointing was that we didn’t attack the game (against Port Melbourne) as much as what we should have when it got close in the last quarter, but we got a lot of confidence out of the fact that our intent and our attack on the footy against the better sides in the competition were good for us.
“The boys know that they can match it with the top sides in the competition.”
Webster said he is expecting a fierce tempo from the first bounce.
“North Ballarat are a very good side, we definitely cannot take them lightly even though we beat them last time,” he said.
“They’re going to come out red hot, they’ve been playing some really good football, they’ve got a lot of experienced players there and they know how to pressure our ball carriers.
“Contested ball is going to be a big one early on and whichever side can get the ascendency in that regard will have a stranglehold on the game.
“It’s going to be a good contest between two evenly matched sides.”
The Roosters became the latest victims of a hot Bendigo outfit last week, but have been in good form of late.
North Ballarat battled hard against the Gold last week, yet allowed four unanswered goals late in the third term that ultimately decided the outcome.
Coach Gerard FitzGerald said his side learned a lot from its loss to the Gold and tried to address some issues on the track during the week.
“There were things we can learn from those 10 minutes against Bendigo because it was a very tight game until the 20-minute mark of the third quarter and then the siren blew at the end and Bendigo had a six-goal margin,” FitzGerald said.
“We concentrated hard on ball-use and efficiency inside forward 50.”
FitzGerald admitted a win over Sandringham won’t come easy, but is vital if the ninth-placed Roosters want to keep in touch with the top eight.
“Playing them at Sandy, they’ll be very hard to beat. They’re a well-organised side playing at home,” he said.
“They’re well coached, well organised and they’re playing with and for each other with that good relationship between them and St Kilda, so they play a good brand of footy.
“It’s a very even competition and at the moment if we can play well enough there is a position available in the eight, but we’ve got to take someone else’s spot and then if we do that, we need to stay there.
“They’re the challenges we face.”
The first bounce is at 2pm.