KEY indicators suggest today’s clash between Terang Mortlake and North Warrnambool Eagles is evenly balanced.
Both sides have 1-3 win/loss records, they are separated only by percentage in sixth and seventh positions on the ladder and both are full of confidence after snapping three-game losing streaks last week.
But the crucial numbers on the scoreboard may tell a different tale.
The sixth-placed Eagles travel to Mortlake’s D.C. Farran Oval knowing they have kicked significantly bigger scores this season. Thanks largely to coach David Haynes’ 27 goals from four games, they have tallied 400 points (384 against) so far, 108 more than the Bloods, who have also conceded less (323).
Terang Mortlake coach Shane Threlfall acknowledged Haynes’ presence would have a big impact on the outcome.
“They’ve lost two by less than a kick and another one by two goals, so they are obviously right in the mix,” Threlfall said of the Eagles.
“Haynes is crucial to them and it’s going to be pretty important to maintain a bit of control on him.”
He said the Bloods had “plans” aimed at curbing his output but kept them close to his chest.
The Bloods will miss Jason Puruntatameri who has been selected to play for the Northern Territory in the national championships.
But they welcome back key forward Steve Staunton, who has missed the past two games with a groin injury. “Staunton is really important for us,” Threlfall said. “We will probably use him mostly forward. It is probably the third of the ground where we have been lacking.
“We say each week how tough the competition is but this is probably an eight-point game. A win keeps you in touch and a loss makes it harder.”
Haynes said the Eagles had their own concerns with match-ups. “Every game is going to pretty tight. We have to get off to a good start and play well and shut down a couple of their key players, Boxhead (Damian O’Connor), Joel Moloney,” he said.
“Last week was the first time we have played four quarters of footy without any lapses. If we are not switched on, it will be a tough day at the office.
“Big Jordan Dillon has been playing really well in the ruck. It goes a long way, getting the ball to Snooze (Matthew Wines), Dean Gavin and Xavier Mills. If you can get first use of the footy and move it quickly into the forwards you have a good chance.”