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Rovers’ biggest task awaits

Football

Rovers’ biggest task awaits


WANGARATTA Rovers have won all three of their matches to start the 2024 O&M season but face a flag fancy of the competition tomorrow.

Albury enjoyed a stellar first two games of the season smashing both Corowa-Rutherglen and Wodonga Raiders but slipped up against Lavington last weekend, falling by 21 points after kicking an inaccurate 4.15 compared to the Panthers’ 9.6.

The Hawks will be hoping to hand the Tigers their second loss on the trot when the two sides meet at WJ Findlay Oval.

Wangaratta Rovers captain Alex Marklew said it’ll be a good test.

“The last four or five times we’ve played them it’s been anyone’s game and I reckon it’ll be a similar contest this weekend,” Marklew said.

“On our end I feel like we’ve only played in patches this season so we’re going to have to play four quarters if we’re going to beat Albury.

“They’re a good side with plenty of talent, we’re looking forward to it.”

Albury’s forward line is stacked with talent with the likes of ex-AFL players Mat Walker (Hawthorn), Lachie Tiziani (GWS) and Jeff Garlett (Carlton/Melbourne) all dangerous.

The Tigers will also be awaiting VFL selection to see whether Port Melbourne forward Jacob Conlan is available.

“I’m not too worried about their forward line, I’ll always back our backs in,” Marklew said.

“We’ve got Jace McQuade and Tom Boyd who play key back – ‘Boydy’ played forward last year but has shown how good he is down back this year.

“And then we’ve got some good small-medium lockdown defenders like Xavier Allison and Will Nolan so I think we’ll be right.”

The midfield battle will be an exciting contest with the in-form Will Christie set for his biggest challenge in the ruck when he meets arguably the competition’s best big man is Isaac Muller.

“Will’s playing with confidence at the moment and I think he can match anyone with the way he’s been playing,” Marklew said.

“Will can use his height against ‘Issy’ (Muller) and run him around the ground a bit but it’s going to be a good battle in there.

“Our clearance work has been a bit down this season so hopefully Will gets on top and our mids can go to work.”

Rovers’ recruits Lochie O’Brien, Sam Cattapan, Allison, and Kieran Parnell are already proving their worth this season and Marklew said he’s loved welcoming them to the side.

“They’ve all been great so far,” Marklew said.

“We’ve basically got a new midfield with Lochie and Sam (Cattapan) going in there and ‘Muz’ (Sam Murray) has started playing midfield too so they’re all getting used to working together.

“Last year we probably lacked midfielders but now we’ve got seven or eight who can go through there which is exciting.

“Xavier Allison has been good down back too, he’s just really calm when he has the ball and his leadership is good too.”

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