Werribee and Sandringham will both be looking to get back on the winners’ list when the square off at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Sunday.
Sunday, July 2
11am (Development League) and 2pm (VFL) at Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham
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The Story So Far
Six wins on the trot had Werribee flying high before last week’s 24-point loss to Footscray brought it back down to earth, so the Tigers will be looking to regain their winning form in a bid to strengthen their position in the eight and reassert their finals credentials.
Sandringham will also be looking to bounce back after a forgettable few weeks. The Zebras were sitting pretty at 4-1 after the opening five rounds but have lost their last four games, which included a 99-point thrashing at the hands of Footscray and last week’s 25-point loss to Coburg, which handed the Lions their first win of the season.
Werribee’s fighting 20-point win over Sandringham in round 21 last year – the last game played at Avalon Airport Oval prior to the redevelopment – was a rare bright spot over a back end to the 2016 season that saw the Tigers struggling to keep pace with a mounting injury toll. However, the Zebras have otherwise proved something of a bogey team for Werribee in recent times, having won the previous four encounters.
- Still learning his ruck craft in his first season at Werribee, Jade Cleeland will face a mighty challenge in the Sandringham pair of Tom Hickey and Jason Holmes. The St Kilda-listed big men proved a formidable duo against Coburg last week, racking up a combined 62 hitouts.
- While the absence of the injured Paddy McCartin and Darren Minchington is a setback for the Sandringham forward line, the Werribee defence certainly shouldn’t expect to have things all on their own terms. Rowan Marshall is better known as a key defender but has proved a handful at times when thrown forward, so the likely opponent of Sam Durdin will need to have his wits about him should the Zebras choose to take that approach.
- Matt Hanson continues to win plaudits for his grunt work in the Werribee engine room, but Tom Gribble is having a huge impact in the middle this year as well. He finished with 36 disposals and two goals last week for his best game of the season, and with fellow ball magnet Jack Steele a major out for Sandringham this week, Gribble has the potential to do some serious damage if given space at the stoppages.
- Werribee will be looking to key forward Nick Larkey to replicate the four-goal performance that helped turn the match against the Northern Blues on its head, but the Tiger smalls have shown in recent weeks that they are just as capable of having an impact on the scoreboard. In his first game back in the senior side, Joe Maishman pushed forward to finish with three goals against the Blues, while Matt Munro had his best game for the year and played a starring role against Footscray with three majors.
- Dom Brew will play his final game as 23rd man and will be out to reproduce his relentless defensive pressure from last week as he looks to hold down his place in the side. The North Albury recruit still has plenty to learn about playing as an inside midfielder in the VFL but has already shown himself to be a tackling machine, leading the team count against Footscray with 15.
The Bottom Line
The recent form line suggests Werribee should start favourite, but the VFL season is becoming more and more like the AFL in terms of unpredictability, so it would be foolish to chalk anything up as a certainty. While clearly below its best in recent weeks, Sandringham has height and midfield talent capable of hurting its opponents, and the ideal conditions predicted for game day will play into its hands. As such, the Tigers may need to temper any confidence with a touch of caution, particularly in light of their recent struggles against the Zebras.