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Hungry for the win

Saturday, 22nd April, 2017

Robbie Bates, shown playing for West last season, will lineup against his former club for the first time today as Central take on the Robins at the Alma Oval. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan Robbie Bates, shown playing for West last season, will lineup against his former club for the first time today as Central take on the Robins at the Alma Oval. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan

By Tyler Hannigan

After a week’s rest for Easter, Central and West return to the field today both hungry to notch up their first wins for the season.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at the Memorial Oval but due to delays with the ground’s surface repairs it has been moved to the Alma.

Both teams have shown glimpses of improvement across the opening two rounds, Central more so than West, but a win here today is crucial in kick starting their season and a loss would set them back even more.

Central were thoroughly outclassed by South in the opening round but improved in round two against North, going down by just 31 points. The game included a scoreless quarter in the second term by the Magpies in which North kicked 3.6 to open up a lead that was never headed despite a much better second half from Central.

Robbie Bates was among the best for Central last week, kicking two goals and he’ll face his former side for the first time today. Forward Lionel Brown also enjoyed a productive day with three majors. Veteran Justin Heath patrolled the backline well while big man Patrick Reincke benefitted from a move to full back after starting forward.

Out from last round are Matt Muscat, Jake Crozier and the promising junior pair of Harry Campbell and Josh Hanford. Into the side comes James Bressanelli for his first run in the League side this season along with new players Tom Cramp and Hamish McLean.

West were rocked early into their round one clash with North as captain and star midfielder Daniel Milne went down with a knee injury which later proved to be an ACL which will sideline him for the rest of the season. Thankfully today they welcome back Liam King to help fill that void left by Milne.

Also into the Robins’ lineup is veteran Peter Christos and Agnaldo De Silva while junior Brock Ellis, Jake Trengove and Brent King are out from last round.

West were brave in their previous game, against South at the Alma, containing the rampaging Roos for three quarters before South’s superior fitness and finishing saw them pile on nine goals in the final term to win by 97 points. 

The effort from West was there, at least for three quarters, but they did not have the class to make that effort count for something, especially against a well drilled South outfit. 

Central are nowhere near where South are in terms of defensive structure, at least not yet, and so the Robins will have more chances to attack while the inclusion of Christos and the likely move of Tom Kickett to the forward line should give them more avenues to score.

King, Ty Andrews and Brett Martin’s work in the middle will be crucial to creating opportunities while Matt Nelson will need to contribute around the ground as well as in the ruck.

The Magpies’ strength looks to be their forward line with Brown, Linden Cox and Jay Carapelotti all named in the attacking 50. Throw in Bates who is likely to spend a fair amount of time forward, and Central has the scoring power to win this game.

The Central midfield is also improving with each outing. It’s still led by Heath and Jason Masclet but Brent Christie is warming into the season well as is skipper Matt Sullivan. Throw in depth players such as James McClure, Jaylon Wingfield and Dylan Stuart and you have the makings of a solid midfield squad.

Both sides will know the magnitude of this game in terms of getting their season started and not falling too far off the pace too soon. It might not have the skill level that will be on display at the Jubilee Oval today but the effort and attack will be the same that will ensure we see an absorbing contest.

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