River Murray Football League round two preview

The River Murray Football League senior competition heads into its second week after an opening round of surprises.

Opening round action: Ramblers' Matthew Altmann fires out a handball ahead of Mannum opponent Korey Loechel in the Roosters big round one win on Saturday.

Opening round action: Ramblers' Matthew Altmann fires out a handball ahead of Mannum opponent Korey Loechel in the Roosters big round one win on Saturday.

Ramblers did not let their long list of departures bother them and they were the big winners over Mannum by 10 goals.

Round two will see Mannum look to make amends for a heavy round one loss as they host Imperials in their hunt for redemption.

A new look Tailem Bend side travels to Mypolonga for the Eagles’ first clash of 2017 against a Tigers side who started with a hard-fought four-point win over the Bluds.

In the remaining round two clash, Jervois faces the tough task of taking on the Bears at Meningie.

Ramblers have the weekend off with the round two bye.

MYPOLONGA v TAILEM BEND

In the off-season, new Mypolonga senior coach Steve Sumner said no one was giving the Tigers a chance and that was the way he liked it.

Smooth mover: New Blue Ben Woolford in action during his first clash in his Imperial colours on Saturday. Photo: William Bailey.

Smooth mover: New Blue Ben Woolford in action during his first clash in his Imperial colours on Saturday. Photo: William Bailey.

Come round one, in the Tigers’ first assignment against Jervois, no one gave Mypolonga a chance and Sumner’s boys got the job done so the new coach has got his first big tick.

This week, Mypolonga face the untried 2017 Tailem Bend side.

The Eagles present as the league’s unknown team after their round one bye.

Tailem Bend had four trial matches, they have plenty of recruiting points and they have a brand new list but will they be hot or not?

What is not unknown at Tailem Bend is that the Eagles are coming from a long way back.

The Eagles are also set to be without a few first choice players who will be unavailable for the clash while Mackenzie Hansen is in a rush to be available for selection after an injury sustained during a trail match on Saturday.

Tailem Bend’s injury ward also includes Jake Hewett and Corey Swansson; Hewett will miss the 2017 season with an ACL tear. 

Mypolonga’s four-point win over Jervois was a low-scoring affair but Simon Norris, Ben Gogel (three goals) and James Moss (two goals) hit the scoreboard and fellow forward Brad Martin presents as another challenge for the Eagles’ backmen, led by Jarryd Linde, Harry Westhoff and Nathan Hansen.

Tailem Bend’s midfield of Daniel Perks, Steven Clay, Dylan Hogarth, Travis Burns and Ben Franks come up against star Mypolonga recruit Clint Diment, Lachlan Bulter, Jake Altmann and last year’s Mypolonga best and fairest Ben Gogel, who also swings forward and can cut sides apart.

Butler is back to his best form from several years ago when he represented the River Murray association. It’s that organic growth the Tigers will need to battle the big runs of the RMFL competition in rounds to come.

In the other corner, there is a bit of optimism around the Tailem Bend Football Club.

The Eagles will welcome former AFL star Scott Welsh, Travis Burns, Harry Westhoff and Luke Williams to the club for their first games and all eyes will be on how the new blokes perform.

A fortnight ago, the Eagles could have gone in favourites for this match against Mypolonga – a side predicted by many to miss the five.

However, it is winning form against the unknown and after getting the job done at Jervois on Saturday, the Tigers go in as favourites for this clash.

The Standard’s tip: Mypolonga by 11-20 points.

MANNUM v IMPERIALS

The Roos and Blues meet at Mannum this week in a match against two sides who failed to collect premiership points in the opening round.

Were Mannum the disappointment of round one or was it just that the football world once again underestimated the might of the Roosters?

The Roos head into their round two clash on the back of a heavy loss in their season opener while Imperials got closer than predicted when they hosted premiership favourites Meningie on Saturday.

Last week, The Standard commented on the Blues failing to find a reliable source for goals last season and on the weekend they only kicked seven with Brad Lienert, the only multiple goal-kicker, with two.

But, such is Shane Collins’ game plan, the Blues restricted Meningie to just 10 of their own, so Mannum will have to overcome a solid defensive structure to kick a winning score.

It’s a fantastic list the Roos have assembled, so what went wrong on Saturday? It was a tough initiation for first year playing coach Michael O’Malley but in reality, it was just one game.

A reliable firm of quality footballers still graces the Mannum Roos’ playing list, headlined by past Standard Medal winner Jake Bowen, midfield gun Levi Krause, courageous defender O’Malley himself and spearhead Korey Loechel, who is coming off a 70 plus goal season last year.

Can the Roos redeem themselves against Collins’ men?

The Blues’ engine-room took it up to the best midfield in country footy on Saturday – Daniel Girdham, Ben Woolford, Phil Smith and Mitchell Lienert all stood up for Imperials and will have to work hard on the big Mannum deck.

Much like the Blues, the Roos also failed to find ways to score on the weekend as Gene Robinson kicked four of Mannum’s eight-goal total. The match could go either way – it’s tough to pick a winner but Mannum are on home soil.

The Standard’s tip: Mannum, 11-20 points.

MENINIGE v JERVOIS

Jervois travels to Meningie for what is touted as the toughest away assignment in River Murray football.

The Bears by the lakeside has been a tough task for the past few seasons and with all the pre-season hype, it looms as scary an assignment as ever.

Meningie beat Imperials in a low scoring match at Johnstone Park and the stars stood up as expected with new boy Thomas Phelps, returning favourite son Brodie Martin, coach Brian Fenton and import Karl Lohde all playing well.

What does the loss against Mypolonga mean for the Bluds? It’s not the start Jervois wanted but a close loss to a hungry Tigers side isn’t doom and gloom.

Jervois coach Ryan Willits got his first look at his side in action in a match of points and he’ll be wiser for the run. New recruit Thomas Dunne kicked three goals last week and was named as Jervois’ best.

Jervois’ Tony Gibson earned the title of the league’s best ruckman last season and he is up against “Two-Metre-Peter” Peter Nelson, who is a gun ruckman and has been for a long time at a high level.

Owen Love is one of the best ball users in the competition, Ty Burkett gives the Bluds grunt around packs and Luke Klukse gave a good performance in his first match in black and red after crossing from the Tigers.

For stand-out premiership favourites, Meningie, it is a common conversation every week; the star players, the household names of the RMFL in Fenton, Martin, Lohde, Nelson and Warmington will play well, week in, week out.

But, what are the concerns for the Bears? It took the Bears three-quarters to shake the Blues, who were on top of Meningie with a quarter to go.

The Blues were a quality opponent but the gap between the top and bottom sides appears to have narrowed and all sides may be up for a tough task each and every week so the Bears will need to be at their best.

Todd Mckay’s injury on the eve of the season was a blow for the Bears but their star power is still second to none.

The Standard’s tip: Meningie, 41-50 points.

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