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Roos to bounce back

Saturday, 27th July, 2013


After a disappointing loss last week South will be seeking to expel their frustrations today on a Central side heading for the wooden spoon.

The blown game seven days ago against North has just about cost South a shot at the minor premiership and I expect them to be fully switched on when they land at Memorial Oval.

“It was disappointing last week,” said South Coach Peter Johns.

“The good thing is we had most of our senior players at training on Thursday night and we are now focused on the game against Central.”

If the coach was feeling flat mid week his spirits would have lifted with news that his captain Michael Westley will make his long awaited return to the playing field.

A foot injury has curtailed the skipper’s season but the medical team headed by Dr Harkness has passed the speedster fit to play.

The Roos will also be pleased to see the smooth-moving veteran Dustin Stephens back in the fold after a slight hamstring strain and Simon O’Brien has jumped out of the locomotive and onto the bench.

“It is good to have Simon back,” Johns said.

“He misses a fair bit of footy because of his work with the railways but he is a key player for us.”

The injury last week to key defender Arlen Bird and unavailability of half back flanker Jake Peters has meant a reshuffle of the South back six for Peter Johns.  

“We will start with Jordan Staker at centre half back and we will push Marcus O’Brien behind the ball to a back flank.”

While South can replace quality with quality, it is not a luxury their opponents share.

The Central list is not strong enough that it can afford to have injured players Jarred Paull and Digby Schinckel sitting on the bench playing with the white board.

One addition to the team that would have had put some smiles on the Central coaching staff’s face would be the return of Lachlan Jenkin.

He has without doubt been one of the real success stories for the Magpies in season 2013.

A mixture of raw talent and an incredible desire for the contest would have him as a leading contender for their best and fairest award.

Put it this way - whoever beats Jenkin and Ben Camilleri will win it.

From a football point of view the equation is simple:

South will go into the game as the overwhelming favourite; the question is can Central muster the pre-match planning and combine it with determination to cause an upset?

They can, because they did it in round eight when they came from behind to snatch a five-point win at Alma Oval.

That was on the back of five goals from Sam Bevan, a great game from Ben Camilleri and a committed team effort.

The Central bench may need to take a leaf out of North coach Mark Pitt’s book. He worked on the assumption that the key player for South is Jordan Johns and the two danger players are Dylan Browne and Cody Schorn.

As part of his pre-match brief he had a tag for Johns and assigned jobs to Jake Napier and Jake Borlace to close down the power forwards.

Without giving too much away, Central coach Justin Heath may have borrowed Pitt’s play book.

“We have looked closely at South and we are mindful of Johns form. Last week when we played West, one of our players was given a job on Cohen Pettit and performed well so we will look at that option again.”

In the back half, Heath has the option of Bayden Quinn for one of the South forwards. Quinn has been in outstanding form all year while Jordan Gilby may win the other one.

A smattering of senior players have shown some good form for Central. They include Lyndon Cox, Curtis Jelbert and Mick Anderson.

The juniors have shown there is a future with Matt Muscat, Jack Roberts and Zayden White all having their moments.

When you add these names to ones already mentioned and combine it with their inspirational playing coach Justin Heath, the raw material is there ... it will just require a total team effort.

But if it will be good enough to roll the mob from the South side of the Hill remains to be seen.

The Roos have class where Central are more workman-like. I have not even mentioned the ability of South players such as Marc Purcell, Todd Davidson and Tyson Boland.

There is no doubt Central will have a crack - it is their past players’ weekend and that always lifts a club with so many former greats looking on. I just don’t think it will be enough.

The South backline has been outstanding all season with Phil Neal, Casey Paull and Cohen Caldwell leading the way. It is hard to see the Magpies kicking a winning score.

They would have to change their ruckmen out of the forward lines to give themselves a set of tall targets and will need to lock down some handy players.

They will have a crack - they have all year - but by the time the siren sounds I think it will be the South song ringing out around the old Western Oval.

The game starts at half past two.

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