Pride on the line
Saturday, 28th May, 2016
By Tyler Hannigan
Central are hosting West at the Alma. That sentence might not make much sense but that's the situation this afternoon on the South side of town.
Both teams are coming off big losses last weekend, West by 84 and Central by a remarkable 208 points.
Magpie coach Jarred Hinton said the side could still take a few positives out of the 200-plus point shellacking.
"Obviously it was disappointing and unexpected, even with the players we had out, but the game allowed us to give some of the younger kids a go," said Hinton.
"Hopefully they took something out of the game that will help them grow as players."
Central will thankfully get top-tier players like Ben Camilleri, Heath Harris and James McClure back while solid contributors Matt Muscat and Brendan Rodda return to bolster the Magpies' line-up.
On a tough day, Jason Masclet was Central's best afield, managing a number of clearances against the league's premier midfield group and didn't stop trying all day.
The Robins tried valiantly to hang in the contest last week but North were just too polished, taking almost every opportunity they got and piled on 23 goals for the game.
Liam King was the standout for West and Ben Perkins made the most of his limited chances to finish with four majors.
These teams are locked at one win each from their two meetings so far this season. West winning their season-opening encounter in round one by over 13 goals but Central managed to turn the tide on their way to a hard fought 24-point win in round four.
In their last meeting Matthew Sullivan was the Magpies best and the ever consistent Justin Heath put through three goals while for West, Liam King took out his first best on ground for the year.
It might be the understatement of the year to say that Central will need to improve dramatically following last week's terrible loss but the injection of most of their best players back into the fold will do them no end of good.
Linden Cox has been named to start despite suffering two dislocations in his shoulder last week.
It will be interesting to see how it holds up and just how coach Hinton will utilise Central's resident hard-nut, especially if he's not quite at a 100%.
While it might be tough to fathom, I think Central could provide one of the biggest bounce-back's in recent memory this week and come out victorious.
The inclusion of Camilleri is massive given he can play all over the ground, while James McClure provides some extra grunt in the middle and some excellent skills when going forward.
Two to three late changes could be on the cards for West with Jack Larkins likely to come in to the named side as well as Judd Carpenter for his first game of the season.
Word is that coach Peter Larkins could also be a late addition to the side but we will wait and see.
Fans will be happy to know that beer will be available at the ground during the game.
Discussions surrounding licensing arrangements have taken place this week and local Chairman Peter Nash thanked the Barrier Area Local Command for their assistance in helping Centrals with what is a unique one year event.
Will be a tough contest all day but I think Central can prevail in a close one by 12 points.