Rest is best for West
Saturday, 27th July, 2013
By By Balldock
Today’s clash at League Headquarters will see the Bulldogs up against the Robins in what is expected to be another tight battle.
While both sides are missing some key personnel the importance is still the same.
How West Coach Dale Tonkin opts to line up has already been dictated by the number of players who in his own words he has decided to “rest.”
When you look through the Robins line up the absent ones include their captain Daniel Milne, the competition’s best ruckman Matt Nelson, and centre half back Cynan Smith.
When asked if they were all injured the answer back from Tonkin was a coy “Maybe.”
When pressed he did offer up that with only five weeks to the Preliminary Final, it was about having his players ready for this cut-throat decider.
“They are all carrying a few niggles and we will be playing in this first final, so our focus is on having the best side available on the 31st August.”
The Bulldogs just need to keep winning and make it mathematically impossible to lose the minor premiership, while the Robins are again looking to upset the more fancied opponent, to date they have beaten the Bulldogs twice this season, but they haven’t won on three or more occasions in a season since 2007.
The Robins have won their first and third encounters while North won the second and fourth games, and if you stick to the trend it is the Robins’ turn to take the points.
But things are not that simple.
One thing that is certain is that both sides will be desperate, which will make this an enticing contest.
The Robins, while out of the hunt for the minor premiership, are on track for the best season since 2007 when they registered 14 wins, while in 2011 they posted seven wins and they look likely to either equal that feat or maybe go one or better.
The Bulldogs last year lost seven games on their way to a flag and so far this season they have dropped just three and they will be looking to keep that record intact.
Both sides have been forced to do some tinkering over past couple of weeks and today again we find that players will line up in unaccustomed roles.
The Robins will start with Dalby in the goal square while Harris will line in the key half forward role while they will start McInnes, Hall across half forward in a move to utilize their pace and ball use,.
We will see King and Tonkin also start inside forward 50, while it is a smaller forward half than usual the Bulldogs back half isn’t overrun with giants.
Napier and Borlace will fill the key defensive roles while support will come from Zac Borlace, Garrick, Pressler and Richards from inside the back 50.
The Bulldogs up forward have been forced to use Hack from the goal square as he has kicked 11 goals in the past four weeks.
Oldsen will line up across half forward with Billings and Caldwell, which give the Bulldogs extra options going forward.
Beaven and Tiziani will start from the pockets.
By all reports, Tiziani’s debut last week was impressive so it will be interesting to see how he goes today.
While the Robins have made a few adjustments to their back half they still look pretty good with Rose, Kickett and Naden across half back.
They will provide plenty of run and drive from that line while Conway gets the fullback duties along with Zanette and Rosewarne.
Some interesting battles inside North’s forward 50 which could go a long way to deciding the outcome today.
The Bulldogs will start with Richards and Vella on the wings up against Ryan and Christos, while in the middle the Bulldogs look to hold the advantage with Kelly, Howard and Johnson up against Martin, Aguis and Pettitt.
If the Robins go with a tagging role, Pettitt will probably get that task, this is where it all starts, and if the Robins can break even in the middle and surrounding duels, it will definitely help their cause.
But if the Bulldogs can get on top it could well be the Bulldogs banking the points at game’s end.
The two wins the Robins have had over North have been under four goals but when the Bulldogs win, it is over 50 points.
While both side are depleted today, I still expect a quality game and at the final siren the Bulldogs should be in front.