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Roos to bound into finals

Saturday, 17th August, 2013


As the Central players lace their boots up this afternoon they will have at least one positive thought going around in their heads: They only have two games left.

What started so brightly with a good win over West in the opening round and a sterling win in round 8 when they rolled South by five points, the rest of the season has been totally forgettable.

This proud club has not won a senior game for nine weeks; the last time their theme song rang out was back on June 15.

A combination of players leaving the club, injuries to key personnel and the unavailability of others has been too big a hurdle to jump.

Consider in round 1 the stars of their 16-point win against the Robins included Brenton Zanette, Digby Schinckel and Wade Gepp who, between them, booted seven goals.

But after 16 rounds this trio would be lucky to have played a combined total of 20 games.

You simply cannot replace experience and class with kids and reserve graders.

For today’s game against South they lose Ben Camilleri to work commitments while Mick Anderson and Matt Muscat are unavailable. That’s two established stars and an impressive junior out of a struggling side.

“It has been tough,” coach Justin Heath said. “We just don’t have the depth to cover the calibre of players we have lost throughout the season.

“Back in April we had a good solid group of 22 players but since then it has been a steady stream of players to the medical room or the door.”

One redeeming feature though in most matches has been the spirit of the Magpies.

“I can’t question that,” Heath said. “For the majority of the year the lads have stood up and had a crack.”

While the season has spiralled towards a wooden spoon for Central, today’s opponents have enjoyed a more productive year, particularly in the second half.

South have won six of their last seven games and the only loss was in round 13 when their inaccurate kicking cost them dearly against North.

The revival of the Roos has been linked with the return of Marc Purcell from Sturt and Cody Schorn from injury. Both have been stars - Purcell in the middle and Schorn at full forward where he has booted 37 goals since returning in round 8.

It would be fair to compare the presence that Schorn has in the Roos’ forward line to that of former club champion Brad Brooks.

In last week’s win over North the Bulldogs had two players on Schorn in the last quarter. He managed to outsmart both and kick three last term goals to set up the win - a scenario Brooks encountered most weeks.

“He has been good,” South coach Peter Johns said of Schorn.

“When you consider he missed 12 months with a knee reconstruction and to come back and not only play but dominate has been remarkable.”

It would appear that today’s match is nothing more than a hit out for South as they head towards another finals campaign.

You would think for many in red and white it will be an opportunity to fine tune their game and secure their position before the business end of the year.

For one player, though, his season and future in the game could hinge on his performance this afternoon.

It is six weeks since Billy Dolan broke down with an Achilles injury, ironically against Central in round 11.

Even allowing for his experience and ability, at 38 years of age and not having a solid fitness base on his side he is racing the clock to be fit.

“He trained lightly on Tuesday and Thursday,” Johns said. “We need to get some game time into him so we are hoping he can get through today unscathed.”

A fit Dolan would be a bonus and would put a smile on his coach’s face.

Apart from the veteran, South are building nicely towards September:

“We get Arlen Bird and Jake Peters back which gives more depth to our backline,” Johns said.

“With Tyson Boland, Simon O’Brien and Mitch Henderson still missing I would like to get a full list by next week.”

The question is, can Central at least challenge the competition’s hottest team? I feel they can.

The bright lights of 2013 have included Lachlan Jenkin, Lyndon Cox, Bayden Quinn and Jack Roberts. They have Jarred Paull available, a promising Zayden White on the paddock and a determined Mark Randall.

In amongst this is a hobbling Justin Heath, an enigmatic Curtis Jelbert and two ruckmen in Sam Beven and Shane Lawrence who will stand up.

It won’t be enough to beat South but at least they have the pride to stall the inevitable.

The game starts at half past two at Memorial Oval.

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