Bluds, the real deal?

Jervois v Meningie

THE rejuvenated Jervois Bluds host competition heavyweights Meningie in what will be a telling round nine River Murray Football League clash.

Jervois sat at the bottom of the table for the first four rounds, failing to record a win.

The Bluds recently showed signs of improvement to beat arch-rival Tailem Bend to breathe some life into their season, before a disappointing home loss to Ramblers put a question mark back over them.

But last week, Jervois again proved it could be a force with the biggest victory of the season by any side, a 101-point flogging of Mypolonga.

Enter coach Ryan Willits.

Jervois’ player-coach, Willits, has been holding the clipboard on the sidelines recovering from a pre-season achilles injury and he hit the field for the first time this year and made a huge impact.

And Willits pulled out another trump card. Zac Makins played his first game for the season and bolstered the Bluds midfield.

And with these two to help Jervois’ Justin Hardy and all of a sudden the Bluds look like a formidable unit.

Hardy has been Jervois’ best player for a month and is hitting the scoreboard is a big way so Meningie must pay the man some respect and put systems in place to curb his influence. 

Hardy has kicked 5, 4, 6 and 8 goals in his last four outings.

The Bluds enjoyed a day out last week but this weekend we will see where they are really at.

They face ladder-leader Meningie, who have only failed once this year.

The Bears got the job done last weekend against Imperials in a bruising encounter.

Star midfielder Brian Fenton came off injured and he will be keen to return to the field and continue his excellent season against the Bluds this weekend.

Meningie’s Karl Lohde has been dominating in the midfield and we all know how good former Adelaide Crow Brodie Martin is.

Myles Warmington is hitting his straps while Rhys Smart and Peter Nelson are emerging as goal-kicking options to help the Bears’ leading scores of Fenton and Jed Durdin, who has not played since May 6.

Meningie’s Nelson and Jervois’ Tony Gibson will have a good duel in the ruck as both big men are in-form.

A month ago it would have been expected the Bears would roll the Bluds by a large margin and go merrily on their way after collecting the points as flag-favourites.

However, the new-look Bluds will prove a threat to all teams – they are an improved unit - but Meningie still looms too tough an opponent.

The Standard’s tip: Meningie by 21-30 points.

Imperials v Mannum

Bottom-placed Imperials hosts the rampant Roos who are taking all who come before them – Mannum has not lost since round one and is gaining more traction towards outright flag favouritism.

The cream is rising to the top and the Mannum club has once again put together a side which will be right there at the end of the year.

Roo midfielder Levi Krause is huge for Mannum’s midfield, the ever-green Jake Bowen has been good form and is showing no signs of slowing down while new recruit Jai De Zylva is proving to be a star.

And then enter Gene Robinson.

The small forward averages six goals a game and has been high in his side’s best players in the last weeks.

He leads the league’s goal scoring and he must be stopped if Imperials are any chance of causing an upset.

The Blues are in the unfamiliar spot of being at the bottom of the ladder with just one win and six losses and unfortunately for Imperials’, they will have a tough task trying to improve their record this weekend.

Daniel Girdham has been the Blues most consistent performer but he needs some help in the middle.

Imperials has missed Ben Woolford who played a solid first month of footy before going out injured, but the likes of Dylan Hollitt have stood up in his absence.

Imperials’ new big man Matthew Williams has been in good form in the last few weeks and Mitchell Lienert is a young star who takes on a lot of responsibility in the Blues’ midfield.

Louis DeMichele has been back with the Blues for the last two weeks after his time in the SANFL with Adelaide and the young utility strengthens the Imperial side.

The Blues boast a good list and while their win-loss record isn’t pretty at the moment, they have lost some tight games and there is room for improvement in the coming weeks.

However, the Roos are too strong and will win at Johnstone Park on Saturday.

The Standard’s tip: Mannum, 31-40 points.

Tailem Bend v Mypolonga 

Tailem Bend are back at home after a week off and host the Mypolonga Tigers.

Mypolonga got belted to the tune of 101 points on Saturday and the Tigers will be keen to prove they are better than they performed last week, while the Eagles had the bye after their 66-point win over Imperials the week prior.

Tailem Bend sit in third position with three wins and three losses while Mypolonga are in fifth place, with three wins and four losses.

While we definitely did not see the best of Mypolonga last week, their form prior was pretty good.

Wins over Jervois, Ramblers and Imperials in round one, have the Tigers around the mark in the battle for finals.

In round two Tailem Bend got over Mypolonga by 11 points at home and the Eagles have improved since then.

Tailem Bend has some strong scoring options with former Crow Scott Welsh, craft small forward Steven Clay (eight goals last week), Mackenzie Hansen and Michael Sumner making for a potent forward combination.

Tailem Bend’s midfield of Jack Marino, Dylan Hogarth, Travis Burns and Daniel Perks have been working well as a unit while Daniel Bartlett will come up against his old side for the first time.

For the Tigers, James Moss is a match-winner and he has enjoyed some big games against the Eagles in the past.

In-form Eagle defender Harry Westhoff is a likely match up for Moss while the Eagles will have to be wary of Simon Norris who is scoring well this season.

Mypolonga’s Clint Diment has been in good form and Ben Gogel is a tough footballer who finds plenty of the footy and can hit the scoreboard in a big way.

Tigers’ Lachlan Butler, Russell Tucker and Seamus McDonnell have had their moments this season and lead a pretty young side with developing players who will get better over the journey.

Mypolonga will be keen to put last week behind them and get back on track and it will be eyeing-off a win at Tailem Bend this Saturday.

However, Tailem Bend are coming off their best win for some time while the Tigers are coming off a heavy loss – so the Eagles should start favourites on Saturday. 

The Standard’s tip: It should be Tailem Bend, 21-30 points.

Big leap: Ramblers' Matthew Altmann gets up first in a ruck contest against Mannum's Jake Bowen on Saturday.

Big leap: Ramblers' Matthew Altmann gets up first in a ruck contest against Mannum's Jake Bowen on Saturday.

Pressure: Ramblers' Riley Vanson gets the ball ahead of Mannum's Michael O'Malley in their A grade clash.

Pressure: Ramblers' Riley Vanson gets the ball ahead of Mannum's Michael O'Malley in their A grade clash.