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Hodgins steps up

Saturday, 6th May, 2017

Jake Hodgins in action back in 2015. Hodgins suffered a badly broken leg later that season and finally makes his return to the League side today for the Magpies. PICTURE: Patrick Reincke Jake Hodgins in action back in 2015. Hodgins suffered a badly broken leg later that season and finally makes his return to the League side today for the Magpies. PICTURE: Patrick Reincke

By Tyler Hannigan

North’s first venture over the hill occurs today as they are hosted by Central at the Alma.

Central’s euphoria after their first win of the season against West was quickly forgotten when they were thumped last round by South to the tune of 85 points. Magpies’ skipper Matt Sullivan kicked three goals and Justin Heath produced his usual best but Central were never in the contest.

Among the inclusions for Central, Jake Hodgins is one of the feel-good stories of the season thus far. Hodgins suffered a broken leg back in 2015 and had a number of further complications but has returned this season to play all reserve games and has been among the best players in all of them.

He’s now been rewarded with selection in the League side and he’s just happy to be back.

“Playing footy is all I’ve wanted to do since that day,” Hodgins said.

“I’ve spent countless hours getting it (the leg) right to be able to run and play again.

“Round one this year was by far the best day of my life, having my family travel up to watch my first game back and my 21st birthday was the following day.”

The other inclusions are Jay Carapelotti, Cassidy Evans, new recruit from Warrnambool Marty Rantall and junior Jordan Cox who moved across from West in the off season. They come in for Robbie Bates, Josh Hanford, Hamish McLean, Louis Hann, Rhian Curtis and Brock Stenfors. Lionel Brown who was a late omission from last week’s side, is also still out.

The Bulldogs were convincing winners over West last weekend with Anthony Henderson and Codie Howard the stars of the show with eight goals and 35-plus possessions respectively.

Missing from North’s team today are Brock Chapman, Nathan Rayner, Dakoda and Chavez Hocking, Malcom Buckland and Bailey Shepherd with Jarrad Burcher, Jayden Kelly, Tyler Hicks, Jackson Pryor, Keenan Ellis and Jedd Watson all making their return. 

The last meeting between these sides was a fairly tight affair but ended in a comfortable Bulldogs’ win by 31-points. Without the forward power of Brown and Bates, Central will need to find a way to kick a winning score, something that has plagued them for a number of seasons.

Central’s back half looks strong with the likes of Zayden White, Justin Heath and Harry Campbell along with honest players such as Sheldon Hall and Matt Muscat, but they’ll need to play well to contain Henderson who’s in brilliant form and the always dangerous Luke Jones and Cohen Bates.

The Bulldogs midfield looks to have the edge in both experience and depth with the likes of Eddie Morgan, Quinton Beavan and Kelly who will be backed up by the likes of Jack Larkins, Brock Elliot and Howard.

Sullivan, Jason Masclet and James McClure will try hard all day but the Magpies just don’t have those second-tier players capable of running through the middle. 

For Central to compete today they may have to concede the clearances and back their rebounding halfbacks in White and Heath to set up their attacking moves forward. They’ll also need flexibility and a willingness to change things up. The likes of Patrick Reincke, Jake Crozier, Carapelotti and Hodgins are able to play at both ends of the field and that variety will be needed today.

Central look to be without too many weapons today, especially up forward, to really challenge North but if their attack and pressure is there, then anything can happen. 

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