NAVARRE v NATTE BEALIBA - Princes Park, 2.35pm tomorrow
NAVARRE and Natte Bealiba kick off MCDFL semi-final weekend when they meet tomorrow at Princes Park.
It shapes as an enthralling battle between the Grasshoppers, who had clearly been the second best side during the home and away season, and the Swans, who are in form at the right time of the year.
For the third year in a row, Navarre was beaten in a qualifying final last week, going down to Newstead by 24 points.
The Grasshoppers have lost coach Daniel Parkin (broken jaw) in an incident in which Newstead’s Liam Bright was suspended for three matches, while key forward Zane Bigmore suffered a shoulder injury.
“We need to be cleaner with the ball going inside 50 this week,” Parkin said.
“We had a lot of ball go inside 50 last week that was rebounded straight out.”
Natte Bealiba defeated Avoca by 33 points last week to keep its season alive.
The win was the Swans’ ninth in their past 11 games, while they’ve inflicted one of Navarre’s four losses when they beat the Grasshoppers by 12 points in round nine.
“We have a lot of respect for Navarre. They’ve played in the past two grand finals and finished second this year, so you only do that if you’re a quality side,” Swans coach Shane Green said.
“We’ll go in with a bit of momentum this week, but as the underdogs.”
Tip: Navarre (7).
LEXTON v MALDON - Princes Park, 2.35pm Sunday
COACH Brett Williams is confident Maldon can reverse two home and away losses to Lexton and keep its season alive on Sunday.
The Tigers defeated the Bombers by 27 and 75 points in the home and away season.
However, the Bombers proved with their 30-point win over Harcourt last week that despite an ordinary finish to the home and away season, they are still capable of some September damage.
“It’s a different side now to what we were four weeks ago,” Williams said.
“We know we’ve got a lot of ground to make up on Lexton, but we think with the players we’ll have available this time and with our structures we can kick a winning score.
“Our midfield is going to be our strength with Shaun Burchell, Hayden Kelly and Tom Cain... that’s as good as any in the league.”
Lexton’s confidence would have taken a massive hit last week when it kicked just two goals in a 132-point qualifying final loss to Carisbrook on a day that started poorly when gun player Damon Aspland (hamstring) pulled out in the warm-up.
“We’d worked hard over the last two home and away games to get a bit of confidence back up, and then came up against Carisbrook, which gave us a fair touch-up,” Lexton coach Paul Phillips said.
“We’ve got to make sure we start well on Sunday and hopefully, things go our way.”
Tip: Maldon (10).