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Nathalia showdown for Rams

After eclipsing Moama by two points last weekend, the Deniliquin Rams will look to carry momentum into tomorrow's important clash at Nathalia.

June 6, 2014 3:55am

Deniliquin coach Troy Bartlett is adamant the Rams belong in Murray Football League’s hierarchy and a win against Nathalia tomorrow would see them inch one step closer to the top six.

Although sitting in seventh spot, two wins away from Finley (6th), such is the closeness of this season’s competition that two wins also separates the Rams from third spot.

Finley plays ladder-leader Mulwala tomorrow while Rumbalara (5th) and Barooga (2nd) play each other, making tomorrow the perfect time to bridge the gap.

‘‘We had a good review on Tuesday night and spoke about the importance of our next five weeks if we want to play finals footy. The boys are very keen to do so,’’ Bartlett said.

‘‘Nathalia have some dangerous players and some good young guys, but I think we are a good chance to win if we do the things well that we pride ourselves on.’’

The Rams lose backman Sam Callanan (unavailable) and possibly hard runner Darcy Bell who left the ground last weekend following a nasty head clash.

However, some good young talent is available for the trip to Nathalia with Tom Dowling and James Henderson home from boarding school and Tyler Amor-Beale recovered from a groin injury.

The Murray Bushrangers have a bye in the TAC Cup, making 17 year-old Jake Marshall an option, while speedy wingman Kevin Gittens and ruckman Kyle Galloway have impressed Bartlett in the reserves.

Although it will be a challenge, playing Nathalia at home is nothing new for the Rams.

Deniliquin has only hosted the Purples in two of their eight clashes since 2008 (including tomorrow’s game).

But it hasn’t necessarily worried the Rams, having lost just once at Nathalia in the past four years.

Nathalia’s two losses this season were inflicted by Echuca United and Mulwala, but it responded last week with a 46-point tuning of Rumbalara.

Playing coach Jason Limbrick was potent up forward, finishing with three goals, and has 29 for the year.

The Purples have a very solid onball unit with Troy Snelson, Nathan Ryan and Sean Tenace across the centre, and Malcolm Barnes and Matt Davies roving under ruckman Jarrod Maskell.

Dashing half-forward Bowen Smith and the versatile Rhys Shannon could also have a run through the middle and, along with Snelson, will be monitored closely by the Rams.

For Deniliquin, Jake Cavallaro could get another defensive role while Todd Gallagher, Oliver Draffin and Rick Gittens will look to continue their dominant form in the midfield.

Brett Macdonald (18 goals this season) and Hayden Barker (four last week) have been working well together in Deni’s forward line and will be matched up on Nathalia’s Jai Morrison and Ned Nihill.

Meanwhile, Purples backmen Luke Quinn and Phill Carroll will lead the tough job of trying to limit Deniliquin’s many running options at goal, such as Clay Howe and Bartlett.

Shaun Connor selects: Deni by a goal.

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