Shepparton East is determined to bounce back from defeat and post a finals victory against Dookie United.By Damen Francis
Shepparton East coach Brad Lowe is not one to confuse ambition with reality.
He may be at the helm of the reigning Picola District Football League south east premier, but — without ever ruling out the possibility of defending its crown — Lowe lowered his eyes to a closer target.
‘‘We’re coming off a few bad defeats and we just want to make sure we win a final,’’ Lowe said.
‘‘We spoke about (the possibility of being eliminated from finals in straight sets) on Tuesday night and we knew at the start of the year we had dropped off a bit with guys that had left, so if we can finish in the top three that would be fantastic.’’
The Eagles were found wanting in the qualifying final against Waaia last week — going down by 45 points — but have a second shot, when they meet Dookie United at Katandra Recreation Reserve in Sunday’s first semi-final.
Win that and they will contest a preliminary final.
Working against them, though, is the knowledge they haven’t won since the 114-point drubbing of Katandra a month ago, that Dookie has beaten them on all occasions this season and that while they are coming off a loss, Dookie is coming off a win.
United also looks set to go in unchanged, while Shepparton East will likely make at least one change, with defender Brad Armstrong expected to return from concussion.
However, not all the numbers are stacked against the Eagles.
Back-to-back wins have been somewhat of a rarity for Dookie this season — it has managed the feat just twice — and it is a trend it will need to overcome.
Dookie coach Matt Maddison said the head-to-head factors meant little.
‘‘It’s finals, so we can’t take anything for granted,’’ Maddison said.
‘‘We played some good footy last week, so we’ll take some confidence from that, but last week we were coming off a bad loss and I’m sure Shepp East will be wanting to do that themselves.’’
Maddison singled out Cobey Aynsley and Ricky Frappell as potential match-winners, but said the focus was more on making sure his side executed its own forward movement effectively.
‘‘We just need to limit the supply to their forwards and make sure we get enough inside-50s of our own,’’ he said.
Lowe said Rohan Stephenson would likely to go to Patrick McMullan, who booted eight of Dookie’s 12 goals against Rennie last week.
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