Storm set for clash of big guns

Strathfieldsaye's Matthew Ladson.

Strathfieldsaye's Matthew Ladson.

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STRATHFIELDSAYE coach Darryl Wilson says his side’s first aim in its top-of-the-ladder clash with Sandhurst on Saturday is simply to be competitive.

The Storm were blown away by the Dragons in their round three meeting earlier in the Bendigo Football League season, losing by 79 points at home.

The round three hiding is the only loss the Storm has suffered this season, while Sandhurst goes into the much-anticipated game at the Queen Elizabeth Oval unbeaten.

“Our plan is just to be more competitive and get our hands on the ball,” Wilson said on Friday.

“Last time we played them they smashed us everywhere and we didn’t have a winner on the ground.

“It’s one of those games you’d like to erase, but at the same time you’ve got to fix up the flaws of that day because they absolutely dominated us and made us look second-rate.

“We’ve got a lot of ground to claw back on them.”

The Storm were smashed 16.18 (114) to 5.5 (35) in round three, but will field a much stronger team on Saturday.

Matthew Smith, Leigh Prior, Tom Bartholomew, Lachlan Bonney, Sam Heavyside, Stephen Milne, Sam Mildren, Shaun Everington and captain Shannon Geary are nine players who didn’t play for the Storm in round three who are in Saturday’s starting 18.

The additions of Milne, Bartholomew and Mildren in particular will put enormous pressure on the Sandhurst backline that only once this season has had more than nine goals kicked against it.

“We need to make sure we get control of the midfield. It has been touted how strong we are up forward, but there’s not much point that being the key if you can’t get the ball in there,” Wilson said.

“Our stoppage work against Eaglehawk last week was better and probably what won us that game, but it’s going to have to go up another cog on Saturday.

“Sam Heavyside will help us in that area and Steven Baker comes back in to provide some pressure around the contest.

“Last time we couldn’t get our hands on the footy, so we’ve worked hard to try to address that.”

Sandhurst coach Brett Fitzpatrick says his Dragons are taking little out of their round three flogging of Strathfieldsaye considering how significant the changes to the Storm playing personnel are in the rematch.

“They are going to be a totally different line-up this week,” Fitzpatrick said.

“I’ve only coached against them three times and there’s probably six or seven guys, such as Sam Mildren, who I haven’t seen before.

“If we win enough of the ball we can control what comes our way, but if we can’t and have to chase all day then we’re going to be in strife.”

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