NEWBRIDGE will be aiming to prove its Loddon Valley credentials on Saturday when it takes on Bridgewater.
The Maroons’ ledger is in the positive at 3-2 after five games, but they are still an unknown in terms of where they fit in the pecking order.
Their wins have come against Pyramid Hill, Inglewood and Maiden Gully YCW, but in their two big tests so far against Mitiamo and Calivil United they have come up short.
Saturday presents a third opportunity for the Maroons to claim a scalp of note when they travel to play arch-rival Bridgewater.
While the 4-2 Mean Machine may not be casting as big a shadow over the Loddon Valley as they have during the past seven years, Maroons coach Matt Dillon has lost none of his respect for Bridgewater.
“We’ve been thereabouts and won the games we should have, but fallen short against the top-end teams,” said Dillon, who in his fifth year is the longest-serving of the current Loddon Valley coaches.
“This is a huge challenge for us to make a bit of a statement and get ourselves up there.”
The Maroons haven’t beaten Bridgewater since 2012 and only once in their previous nine encounters against the Mean Machine have they finished within 40 points.
“While they probably aren’t as strong as they have been, I definitely still see them as one of the main sides in the competition,” Dillon said.
“We’ll certainly be treating them like it’s the same old Bridgewater and we’ll have to do everything right to beat them.”
The Maroons will be going into the game off the back of a 21-day break, having had their club bye followed by last week’s general bye.
“We’ve used the break as a chance to freshen the guys up because we were limping into it a bit,” Dillon said.
“It came at a good time for us, but it will either go one or two ways on Saturday… we’ll come out fresh and ready to go, or we’ll be a bit flat, which, hopefully, won’t be the case.”
The Maroons have lost two players for the season, with recruit Brian Mustafa suffering a knee injury, while ruckman Connor Toohey has been sidelined with a bout of pneumonia.
The trio of midfielders Brad Comer and Jordan Gilboy, and Tyler Romeril, who has stepped up in the ruck, have been the Maroons’ most consistent players across the first five games, while Sam Kennedy leads their goalkicking with 11.
• Saturday’s games – Marong v Calivil United, Bridgewater v Newbridge, Maiden Gully YCW v Bears Lagoon-Serpentine, Pyramid Hill v Inglewood. Mitiamo bye.