Footy is back after the long weekend off and it is a straight Pirie v Augusta teams. Central take on Lions at Central Oval on Saturday, Sollies play South at home on Saturday and Port play their only Sunday match for the season in Port Augusta to take on Westies.
Cats hope to repeat the dose
Solomontown finally broke through for a win over South who have proved to be a real thorn in the Cats' side by defeating them in the past two grand finals. Both teams are on eight points, a game behind Lions, so a win here will be vital, particularly for the Cats as they still must face South twice more this year, both in Port Augusta. Jonno Hayes starred in this same clash earlier this season with a best afield performance plus three goals and they will need a similar effort again to get the win. Fellow midfielder Corey Davey has once again been a prime mover this year and along with Joe Caputo they have all featured in the best players.
Big man Lawson Munzberg gets better with every outing and along with his brother Mason and Bernhardt they have good height and options. Lachy Knibbs has only played three games yet sits fifth on the season scoring tally and didn't play against South last time around. For the Bulldogs, their form has been very good after dropping the round two clash and they will be confident of getting the result they desire. Gary Warren has been outstanding this year, kicking goals and high in the best players every time he has played. He will take some stopping.
Kriston Thompson is fully fit and flying and along with Kildea, McKenzie and others all chipping in to play their part through the midfield. Downey will give South first shot at the ball around the rucks and the defence led by the in-form Ritter are hard to break down. It will be close, but I am tipping the Bulldogs to overturn the earlier result, but only by a goal or two.
Lions' to stay on winning path
Lions will be looking to maintain top spot on the ladder with a win over the fifth-placed Central Augusta Bloods in Port Augusta on Saturday. Centrals' form has been a little hot-and-cold over the season and even within games as happened last time these teams played each other. Central roared back from a 51-point deficit to get within two goals only to let Lions slip away again. Tyson Horsnell leads the competition with 21 goals to date by only two goals over fellow will-of-the-wisp forward Jared Reid who has 19.
Both players are well and truly the main route to goal for both sides and if one can get off the chain, it will go a long way toward getting the result due for their team. Lions have a long-established core group of players that they have managed to complement this year with a few good "ins". Jordy Fuller has been as consistent as ever and, along with Eckert, forms a very tough-to-match midfield duo. Slattery, Oliphant, the Edwards brothers will help through the midfield while in defence Browne has been sensational.
Big man Dyer, whether across half-forward or on the ball, has been great for the Lions and will be looking to bag a few more this week. For Centrals, evergreen Struck and Fuller have been good along with Nathan Khan with all three being not far from Centrals' best. Mandemaker is good when available and the classy Muirhead is fantastic when on song. Lions are going well and I am tipping them to win again by three goals.
Port looking for a win
West Augusta will be at home to Port this coming Sunday in what is a must-win for the hapless Bulldogs as they look to finally get their season underway in what is becoming a desperate situation. Port are two games behind both West and Centrals so a win can put them only one behind both if league leaders Lions do the business and win as expected. Put simply, Port have struggled to score. Phillips has kicked 18 for the season to be third in the goal-kicking, but 11 of those goals came in a round four flurry against the Bloods. No one else has hit double figures yet.
Cooke and Coe have been Port's best with the recent form of Athanasos also a real plus. Port have been in most games up to three quarter time, only to fade late. Westies have improved vastly from their lowly year bottom-position last season. They have brought in Duffy Allen and got Warren back from Roopena in Whyalla and with this the other players have responded.
Collins, Packard and Ryan have been great along with a lot of their youngsters all helping put down full team performances. If the Dogs are a chance to play finals they must beat the two sides above them and West and Central are those teams. This one will go a long way to defining their fortunes for season 2019 and we expect them to go hard. A lack of goals and Westies at home on a Sunday will hurt them, though, and from a local perspective hopefully this tip is not right but its West by a goal.