RMFL round 12 preview: Re-born Blues taking competition by storm while Mannum are set to make their mark

THE all-conquering Blues will host Meningie at Johnstone Park as Imperials look to extend their winning streak to seven games in round 12 of River Murray football.

At Mypolonga, the Tigers will play host to the Roos in a match that sees fourth-place meet fifth while arch- rivals the Eagles and the Bluds will go head-to-head at Jervois.

IMPERIALS v MENINIGE

FIRST-PLACED Imperials hosts sixth-placed Meningie for their round 12 River Murray clash.

The Blues are flying high on a six-match winning streak which includes a sweep of all the other opposing teams.

Imperials are fearing no side and gaining momentum as the race towards the finals heats up.

The Blues’ stars have been shining.

Luke Harrowfield sets the tone with his competitiveness and worth ethic – he is rarely beaten in the air or on the ground and is one of the most valuable players in the competition.

Ruckman Matthew Williams is another consistent performer who gets the job done week-in, week-out and Gareth Williams is an experienced footballer who wins his own ball and sets up the Blues.

Playing-coach Scott Mcmahon brings on-field leadership and some composure around the contests.

The former AFL star has the Blues well-organised and playing a good brand of footy.

As well as the stars are traveling, it’s the rise of the other Imperials like Jacob Rance which has separated the Blues from the rest.

Since his selection in the association side on the June long weekend, Rance has been in his side’s best players in the last two weeks and hit the scoreboard on Saturday with four majors.

Players like Jamie Honnor, captain James Clarke and Mitchell Lienert make for a solid list at Imperials and their is little doubt that the Blues can go all the way.

Off and running: Imperial James McLaren in action during his side's big win over Mypolonga on Saturday. Photo: William Bailey.

Off and running: Imperial James McLaren in action during his side's big win over Mypolonga on Saturday. Photo: William Bailey.

In the other corner, Meningie currently sit outside the top five with four wins and five losses.

The Bears have had some big wins against good sides are will be looking to use the next seven rounds to secure a finals spot in what is a tight competition.

Seb Paynter and William Paynter have been standouts since joining Meningie from Adelaide Uni at the start of the year.

Both players are consistent ball-winners who can be relied each week.

Peter Reichelt is a general in the back half and captain Brodie Martin gives the Bears a target when up forward.

Bears’ recruit Simon Newchurch should add plenty of spark when available. 

The Rambler premiership player played his first game in Bears colours last round in what was his first game back since his best on ground display in the 2016 grand final.

Ruckman Peter Nelson has been good again this season but it has been reported he may miss some football in the run to the finals.

The Bears have proven they are around the mark and can go deep into finals but will they be able to contend with a red hot Blues’ side on Saturday?

Not much separated the sides last time they met with the Blues winning by 13 points at Meningie.

It will be a competitive match but everything is going right for the Blues and their list goes deeper than Meningie’s.

The Standard’s tip: Imperials, 21-30 points.

MYPOLONGA v MANNUM

Round 11 saw two very different tales for the Tigers and the Roos.

Mannum recorded the biggest win of the season, thumping Tailem Bend while Mypolonga were on the receiving end for a 20-goal drubbing.

The sides will head into this weekend’s clash with the Roos looking to carry on that momentum and the Tigers looking for a quick bounce back to form. 

When they met in round five, it was Mypolonga who got on top in a shoot-out with James Moss kicking 12 goals.

However, the Tigers have only won one of their last four matches while the Roos are two wins and two losses in the same time period, which includes a big win over the then top-placed Ramblers at LeMessurier Oval.

Roos Jye De Zylva and Billy Hayes have been fantastic in the middle while Gene Robinson continues to score at will.

He kicked 12 on the weekend as the Roos dismantled Tailem Bend and it was only two matches ago he kicked 11 in that win over Ramblers.

Playing-coach Michael O'Malley rebounds well from the back half and Zakk Bullard, Isaac Hampel, Matt Williams and Korey Loechel are all in good form.

So what went wrong for the reigning premiers Mypolonga on the weekend?

The Tigers were minus a few key players Ben Gogel is on holidays but they did welcome back Seamus Mcdonnell.

The side had 13 of their premiership players on deck including stars James Moss, Clint Diment, Nathan Wright, Mcdonnell and included recruits Mitchell Bowley and Bradley Oats.

Gogel’s unavailability leaves a big hole but Lachlan Butler is standing up, Diment is reliable and Bowely and Jake Altmann are having good seasons.

The reigning champs were smashed on the weekend but if you flashback to last season, there was a round eight 100-point loss to Jervois before the Tigers were even considered to be in the running for the flag.

A lot can change in a short amount of time and coach Steve Sumner knows this all too well.

However, Mannum must start favourites to win on Saturday. 

The Standard’s tip: Mannum, 21-30 points.

JERVOIS v TAILEM BEND

Tailem Bend heads to Jervois on the back of their worst loss for a long time and amid a horror season, while the Bluds are starting to live up to the preseason premiership-favourites hype. 

It has not been easy going for Tailem Bend, who made in-roads last season on their quest to finally emerge as finals contenders.

First, they lost forward Scott Welsh and Daniel Bartlett to Padthway and Michael Sumner retired – three of their top five from their 2018 best and fairest who were expected to stay.

Then a few round back, Tailem Bend lost their coach due to family reasons.

Mackenzie Hansen returned from Port Adelaide to bolster the Eagles roster but he’s succumbed to injury, Benn Crate was recruited from the Southern footy league but hasn’t played since May 19 and Steven Clay left with a desire to return to his home club. 

Despite all this, before their back-to-back byes the Eagles ran the first and second-placed sides to within 12 and 17 points respectively and their first win looked just around the corner. But, a 163-point belting by Mannum on Saturday would suggest otherwise.

Jervois, on the other hand, have won three of their last five games as they look to finish off the season strongly.

They are just one premiership point and percentage off top position and a win over second-placed Ramblers on Saturday will give the Bluds even more confidence as they look to pick up momentum on the run home.

As always, the star Bluds players Taite Silverlock, forward Justin Hardy and Matthew Kemp are performing well and the experience the Bluds have with playing-coach Ryan Willits on the ground is invaluable.

Former Tiger Luke Kluske is having a good season and it’s the depth of Jervois’ role players that has them in good shape.

Tom Kluske, Tyler Robinson, Zane Barry, Brayden Gommers and last season’s best and fairest Peter Zarantonello all play their part.

Tailem Bend will want to come out and prove they are better than last week’s offering and expect the Eagles to do so. However, Jervois will be too strong.

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