A win against Moama tomorrow is the only possible option for the Rams to play finals in 2014.August 22, 2014 4:00am
The Deniliquin Rams have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their must-win game against Moama tomorrow with star utility Todd Gallagher suspended by the Murray Football League tribunal.
A crucial cog in the Rams’ midfield, Gallagher was rubbed out for two weeks for a heavy hit on Congupna’s Harry Moran last weekend.
Rams coach Troy Bartlett will ring in several changes for the all-important clash and said he had lifted the intensity at training during the week.
‘‘We were pretty flat against Congupna, so we’ve been doing intense training this week,’’ Bartlett said.
‘‘The boys are well aware of how high the stakes are (tomorrow).
‘‘We are a pretty honest group, so we talk about it pretty regularly. They’re well aware of the situation.’’
With young backman Tom Dowling also unavailable, the Rams will hope to be boosted by speedsters Ricky Gittens and Clay Howe.
Their pair have missed the last two weeks with injury, but Bartlett said both are a chance to line up against the seventh-placed Magpies.
Also in the mix is defensive runner Jake Cavallaro, trusty goalkicker Ben Nisbet and man mountain Eddie Draffin, while agile teenager Charlie Simpson could be a surprise inclusion.
In order for Deniliquin’s season to stretch out a few more weeks, it must beat Moama tomorrow and hope one of its rivals loses.
Rumbalara and Finley have the top two spots wrapped up and there are five teams with 11 wins to their name, including the Rams, but only four of them can finish inside the top six.
Mulwala and Echuca United are expected to remain in the mix with wins over Tongala and Numurkah tomorrow, while Nathalia travels to Rumbalara and Barooga hosts Finley.
It would be a tough ask for either of the Purples or Hawks to cause an upset but, even still, Deniliquin has no safe passage into an elimination final.
Tomorrow’s hurdle, Moama, is one of the two unfortunate teams that was genuinely good enough to win the flag but has missed out on finals .
With a long list stacked full of amazing young talent and proven champions, the Magpies have posted some scorching victories in 2014.
They have beaten regining premier Echuca United (twice), as well as frontrunner Rumbalara and, in more recent weeks, Nathalia by four goals.
Deniliquin’s amazing come-from-behind win against Moama in round seven would have left a nasty scar and there is no doubt the Magpies will be out for revenge.
What better way - other than served cold - to exact revenge than by ruining a team’s finals chances?
Deniliquin’s Daniel Jordan will have a handful keeping Tyler Jones (89 goals this year) under wraps, but will have support from Jayden Pitts and Brayden Hall.
Lachie Schultz (28 goals) and Jake Kilmartin (41) are two of the Magpies’ other main avenues to goal.
‘‘DJ (Jordan) will get Jones as he has matched up well on him in the past,’’ Bartlett said.
‘‘But Moama has a number of good forwards, as well as onballers, so everyone will be on their game.’’
The battle for dominance around the ground will feature Deniliquin’s Ash Morris, Oliver Draffin, Darcy Bell and Gittens, up against Moama ball winners Rhys Archard, Daniel Thorpe and, if he plays, AFL Draft prospect Aidyn Johnson.
Another of Moama’s versatile young stars is Jamarrah Firebrace, while David Ismail gives the side plenty of run out of the back line.
The Rams themselves have plenty of firepower, extending from tall targets Brett Macdonald and Hayden Barker to running players Morris, Draffin and Bartlett.
Two of the best workhorses on the ground - Deniliquin ruckmen Anthony Bull and Chris O’Connor - will also have a big say in the result.
‘‘We’re looking forward to another cracker,’’ Bartlett said.
‘‘This is our third elimination game in a row, so we know what is expected. We will give it everything we have.’’
Selection: Rams to get the job done by 10 points.
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