Werribee will be looking to reaffirm its status as a finals contender when it travels to Piranha Park to take on Coburg on Saturday.
Saturday, July 8
10:45am (Development League) and 2pm (VFL) at Piranha Park, Coburg
The Story So Far
Having been cruising along beautifully with six wins on the trot, Werribee has hit a bump in the road with consecutive losses to leave it at 6-4, so a win for the Tigers becomes all important as they look to shore up a spot in the top eight through the second half of the season.
Finals won’t be figuring in Coburg’s calculations, but it will also be desperate for a win after a tough start to the season. After nine straight losses to kick off their 2017 campaign, the Lions broke through for their first win of the year against Sandringham in round 10, though an 85-point loss to Geelong last weekend ensured the celebrations were short lived.
The two sides last met at Avalon Airport Oval in round 12 last year, and while it was Coburg who prevailed on that occasion, neither side will be eager to spend too much time dwelling on the encounter. With a wayward Lions outfit kicking 9.19, the final margin of 14 points flattered the home side, which started strongly but went scoreless in the second quarter and struggled to regain its momentum thereafter.
• Werribee will need to ensure it doesn’t give too much space in the middle to Liam Hunt, who has racked up the touches all year but took things to another level last weekend with a whopping 48 disposals and a goal.
• Adding further heft to the Coburg midfield will be the returning Nick Mellington, who was the Lions’ leading possession getter and arguably most damaging player prior to his two-week absence through injury, while dangerous small forward Rivva Karpany also makes his comeback and is sure to keep the Tigers’ defence busy.
• Strong defensive pressure will be crucial in limiting the effectiveness of the Coburg midfield, so Werribee will be looking for another tackling tour de force from Dom Brew and Matthew Hanson, whose monster totals of 17 and 15 tackles respectively had them ranked first and fourth across the competition in round 11.
• Coburg’s Tom Goodwin has gained a reputation as arguably the best VFL-listed ruckman in the competition, but that title perhaps sells his work short, as his best has seen him match it with many of the top AFL prospects this season as well. With that in mind, the Tiger big men will need to be at their best to ensure the Lions don’t gain control at the hitouts.
• Despite racking up 70 inside 50s, Werribee wasn’t able to get the job done against Sandringham last week, missing opportunities in front of goal and too often turning over the ball in attack. Experienced Coburg defender Sean Gregory has made something of a name for himself with his intercept marking down back, so good ball use in the forward half becomes even more important for the Tigers this week.
The Bottom Line
The form line suggests the visitors should fancy their chances, but there’s a lot more to footy than that, and Werribee will be wary of Coburg given its recent success against Sandringham, who the Tigers failed to get over the line against last week. Piranha Park’s short dimensions and tendency to muddy up after a bit of rain mean the game could well be won or lost on contested possession, so the Tigers will need to show themselves to be hungriest if they are to come out on top in this battle of the jungle beasts.