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Central down key players in mid-week game

Thursday, 14th April, 2011


For perhaps the first time in local football history two teams will line up tonight for a Thursday night fixture.

The Central and North clash will have historians scouring the record books but one thing is certain, football mid-week style has arrived in Broken Hill.

In a bombshell move North named former West star and 2008 Mail Medallist Ashley Bates in its team. The elusive mid fielder has been playing in Country Victoria but is moving back to the city to live.

Similar to last Saturday's on field contest, both West and North have been engaged in an on-going battle to obtain Bates' signature. Unlike the game, the Bulldogs won.

Whether Bates emerges from under the grandstand tonight in blue and white will depend upon him obtaining an 11th hour clearance.

With Bates' clearance as an interesting backdrop, the five day turn-around from the opening round has handed no favours to either side as both teams are missing key players through injury, while several of those that take the field will be still sporting some sore sports.

The most popular item in all change-rooms last Saturday afternoon was the ice pack.

The club that suffered most is Central; its lost utility player Mick Anderson for the season after he underwent a knee reconstruction in Adelaide yesterday. He lasted less than a quarter against South and will be a big loss to the Magpies, who will also go into tonight's match minus their number one ruckman, Shane Lawrence, who has twigged a hamstring.

Key forward Matt Collins has a corked thigh, Jenkins has a broken collarbone, while Justin Heath, Brenton Zanette and Paul Christie are all unavailable.
Despite this Central coach Jarred Hinton was philosophical.

"Lucky it is only round two but that's football, we welcome back Trampis Garnaut so that's a plus," he said.

"I was pleased with the endeavour last week against South and I am sure the boys will lift."

The North team will also have key players missing with big man Nat Rayner nursing a sore shoulder. Also unavailable are Clare, Oscar Richards, Devon Bates and Harwood.

Unlike the Magpies the scenario is slightly more positive for the Bulldogs as it welcomes back Ruddock, Stuart, McConnell, Curtis Beven and Ashley Bates.

Whoever is available or not has seemed to matter little in recent seasons as both clubs have enjoyed some classic encounters.

It was Central who had the upper hand last year and North coach David Ruddock is keen to level the ledger.

"They were awesome last year and even though they have key players out tonight they still have Gepp, Wilmore, Cox, McInnes and Files so we will not be taking them lightly," Ruddock said.

He was also happy about signing Ashley Bates.

"When we found out he was heading home we were more than keen to pick him up," Ruddock said.

"He is a gun player and I remember the combined game in Adelaide three years ago he almost won it for us off his own boot."

With the addition of key mid fielders in Ruddock and Stuart, the Bulldogs have bolstered their mid field - but it has been their inability to kick winning scores that has hampered their cause over the last two seasons.

This is something they will need to rectify if they want to play finals in 2011.
It is hard to select Central tonight; with so much talent not wearing the famous black and white strip it is difficult to mount a case.

But any team that has Wade Gepp in front of goals is capable of winning.

I feel North has the edge and on paper they should win and win easily but they will have to display more discipline tonight than they did last Saturday against West.

If they don't, and Wade Gepp decides to turn on the after burners, an upset is on the cards, but the Bulldogs under lights should finish up in front.
The margin, 25 points.

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