Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

A derby with more than the usual at stake

Avenel and Nagambie senior football sides will both be desperate for four points - for different reasons.

CHALPAT SONTI August 13, 2014 3:32am

Both Nagambie and Avenel will be hoping the numbers add up wehn they meet at the Swans home ground on Saturday.

Forget the talk of hoodoos and the fiercest local rivalry in the KDFL. When Avenel hosts Nagambie on Saturday, both sides will just be concentrating on a precious four points in a game they both have a huge amount to play for.

Or so it’s being said. Four points for the Swans would see a first finals appearance in 10 years and a first win over the Lakers since 2007. A win to Nagambie and a top-two spot is sealed.

But there are a couple more ingredients which make this a clash neither side wants to lose. It’s a derby, after all. And there are going to be plenty of Swans’ greats from the golden era on the sidelines — and losing to Nagambie wasn’t what they were about, no matter where either side was on the table. Ditto for Nagambie, who still remembers losing grand finals.

It will be a finals-type atmosphere, with a big crowd almost guaranteed and Avenel hosting a mega-reunion.

Their modern-day counterparts know it’s a game neither side can afford to lose, with the bigger picture in mind.

‘‘They’re hungry but so are we,’’ Lakers coach Linc Sullivan said.

‘‘We really want to lock in that top two spot so we’re not relying on anyone else. We just want to win when it’s done and dusted.’’

Avenel pushed Nagambie for about two-and-a-half quarters earlier in the season before the Swans’ lack of depth told and it was overrun to lose by 50 points. But Avenel did walk away with respect from a side with a big winning streak against it.

‘‘They’ve got those good players (Don Stirling, Michael Morgan), Cael (McCarthy), Greeny (Andrew Green), Subba (Paul Arandt) and a few others and we’re going to have to be right on top of our game. I would expect nothing less than a fierce contest.

‘‘But it’s definitely the sort of game we’re up for. We wouldn’t have liked to have it the week after the bye but we’ll be ready for them, no worries about that.’’

Sullivan wants to see his side put to bed the lapses in concentration that have cost it at times this year. With a finals-like atmosphere and pressure, Saturday’s game looks the ideal dress-rehearsal for September.

While Nagambie brings winning form into the game, the Swans are coming off a poor effort at reigning premier Murchison. Avenel will also be sweating on the fitness of McCarthy, Arandt and perhaps most critically backline general Mick Dundon.

‘‘When we played them the first time I thought they were probably the best field kicking side (in the competition),’’ Swans coach Cameron Gillett said.

‘‘They very rarely missed a target and they don’t rely on one or two guys, they have 21 that contribute. If we put in a performance like we did (against Murchison) we’re going to get beaten the same way.’’

Avenel has looked on track for finals for much of the season without ever really hitting the burst of form to seal it before now, and Gillett can’t understate the importance of Saturday’s game.

‘‘If we do lose we basically fall to the back of the pack chasing those two spots. Tally (the following Saturday) is no certainty and we can’t rely on the last game.’’

And he wants the lesser lights to shine.

‘‘For too long the footy club has relied on Greeny to be best on ground, Cael to kick four or five goals and take 10 marks and Subba to do the same thing, but unless the rest of the team stand up, and it’s been slowly getting better, we get really found out against the good sides.’’

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