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Blockbuster

Saturday, 17th June, 2017

Jordan Johns in action against North earlier this season. Johns has struggled for form in 2017 but today’s big stage could bring out the best in the South superstar. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan Jordan Johns in action against North earlier this season. Johns has struggled for form in 2017 but today’s big stage could bring out the best in the South superstar. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan

By Tyler Hannigan

The Broken Hill football world is abuzz today in anticipation of the two top sides going head to head in a battle for top spot with North having called in reinforcements in the form of former Carlton great Anthony Koutoufides.

 

Last time they met:

North caused a minor upset in round six when they knocked off the previously undefeated South by a comfortable 35 points. They started well with five goals to one in the opening quarter and held the lead throughout the game. 

Forward livewire Anthony Henderson starred for the Dogs, kicking eight goals in a best on ground performance and Ethan Slater kicked four. North’s experienced stars Eddie Morgan, Jayden Kelly, Quinton Beavan and Codie Howard were all among their best.

Cody Schorn kicked four goals for South and he and ruckman Dylan Browne were their best. Inaccuracy hurt the Roos that day as they kicked 7.14 and that will need to be rectified today.

 

Recent form:

North (last five): WWWWW

The Dogs have been in ripping form over the last few rounds. After their win over South they backed it up with a 130-point thrashing of West and an 87-point drubbing of Central in round eight. 

South: WWLWW

South bounced back from their loss to North in round six with an easy win over Central by 73 points and followed that with a 127-point demolition job over the Robins. 

 

Ins and Outs:

North- IN: A. Koutoufides, T. Hack, M. Dempster, N. Rayner 

OUT: B. Elliot, J. Larkins, J. Burcher, H. Trengove

The most obvious addition to the Bulldog’s team is Anthony Koutoufides who will play a one-off game for the club today but North have also added experience with Matt Dempster, height with Nat Rayner and skill with Tobias Hack who will play his first League game since 2015. 

Hack has played four games in the reserves since returning from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury and kicked four goals in his last game.

South- IN: W. Gepp, J. Peters, J. Johns, J. Holmes, D. Hardy, A. Collins, D. Browne

OUT: T. Boland, J. Smith, T. McKenzie, J. Bird, L. Lines, L. Gepp 

South welcome back a host of stars that missed their clash against West including big names Drew Hardy, Dylan Browne and Jordan Johns. Talls Jordan Holmes and Wade Gepp return to bolster the defence, as does Jake Peters and Angus Collins.

Fringe players Jack Bird and Tyson Boland are back to the reserves while Nick Brown is named on a five-man bench but is also likely to miss out. 

 

Key players:

Anthony Koutoufides (North)- It’s an obvious one. The 278-game Carlton legend is slated to line up on the ball for the Dogs although most expect him to drift forward. He was a champion in his prime but that was almost 20 years ago and how he’ll fare against the young, tough and fast South team remains to be seen.

He could break the game open if he takes a few marks down forward or uses his big frame to win a clearance or two. Most of the crowd will be there to see ‘Kouta’ so let’s hope he goes well.

Jordan Johns (South)- A South champion and son of a South legend Peter Johns, Jordan has struggled to find his best so far in 2017. Normally has so much time with ball in hand and rarely makes a mistake but a change in work schedule and fewer games being played has led to him performing well below his best.

Despite this, Johns is too good of a player to not adjust and bounce back and this grand final-like stage could be the catalyst for a mid-season revival.

 

What we can expect:

Traditional rivals, a big crowd at the home of Broken Hill football and top spot on the line. Already this has the makings of a cracking game, but throw in the intrigue of Koutoufides and a fine day weather-wise and we could get an absolute classic.

South were too good when the teams last met at the Jubilee Oval but North gained revenge at the Alma. Both games had frighteningly similar score lines and with each team fresh off a two-week rest, expect them to throw everything at each other from start to finish.

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