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LBU and Leitchville-Gunbower set for big clash

Senior players return for Cats as they seek to ensure a double chance.

GEORDIE COWAN July 12, 2014 3:27am

Up to seven senior players could make their return for Lockington-Bamawm United as it hosts Leitchville-Gunbower in a big Heathcote and District Football League clash tomorrow.

Two of the form sides of the competition, both teams will be desperate to win as they enter the last few weeks before finals.

Placed second and third respectively, this result could have a big bearing on each team’s hopes of securing a top-three finish and consequent double chance in finals.

‘‘It will be a tough contest, no doubt,’’ Cats coach Ady Dohnt said.

‘‘Last time we played them there was only a couple of kicks in it, so we are expecting the same sort of tough contest (tomorrow).’’

The Bombers’ recent eye-catching form, including its highest ever score in the HDFL last week, had the Cats coach wary of their spread of goal-kickers through half-forward and in the midfield.

Despite all that, Dohnt said he expected it to be a one-on-one contested game with a finals-like intensity.

‘‘There’s only five weeks to go to finals and no doubt in five weeks these two sides will be there and could be playing each other again,’’ he said.

LBU won 76-57 when the teams met earlier in the season, despite having one fewer shot.

Leitchville-Gunbower senior player Matt Hawken said the match against the Cats heralded the start of a tough run, with games against Mt Pleasant and North Bendigo to follow.

Having formed a potent attack, the team now needed to look at the other end, he said.

‘‘Now we are focusing on the defensive side of the game, because we know that’s the most important thing come finals,’’ Hawken said.

‘‘Control sides when they’re on top.

‘‘In saying that, last time we played them was a low-scoring affair, although hopefully they don’t kick that straight again.’’

To control the Cats’ run and carry style, his team would need to be on guard across the ground, Hawken said.

‘‘A lot of their run comes from their half-back,’’ he said.

‘‘Players like (Simon) Keleher and (Nathan) O’Brien kick the ball well, so it is about getting a bit more pressure in and not allowing them the time and space to set it up.

‘‘They have a strong midfield and an even side and ... getting five or six players back in makes a huge difference.’’

Hawken said the team had its chances to win last time and wanted to improve again tomorrow so it can go into its bye with confidence.

LBU has been beset by injuries, suspensions and unavailability this year but the club has enough depth to cover the losses and still remain among the top teams in the competition.

Keen to continue its nine-game winning streak against the Bombers, the Cats are set to make yet more changes to the line-up, but this time it is for the right reasons.

Dohnt said midfielder Matt Bongiovanni (hamstring), Rhys Woodland and Bendigo Gold duo Lachie Collins and Trent Bacon were definite ins, while Michael Dobson (suspension), Jared Ireland (holiday) and Ryan Jensen were all in the mix.

Dohnt (lower leg) and Liam Main (knee) are probably another week away, with Kahl Oliver (broken thumb) and Alan Stride (bulging discs) also still out.

Hawken said Sam Hawkins would return to the side while midfielder Russell Lee looked in good form upon his return last week.

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