THE Shepparton Bears will look to add to Echuca’s misery when they host the Murray Bombers in Saturday’s Goulburn Valley League football action.
Echuca has lost touch with the pack in the race for finals, and might only be playing for pride, needing to make up two games and more than 20 per cent to chase down Rochester for sixth place.
But after the previous fortnight, in which it has lost to Mooroopna and the Shepparton Swans, coach Andrew Briggs has made it clear his side will be looking to win back respect.
‘‘Our focus this week is to show some grit and determination, and real passion,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve bounced back from different scenarios this season, and we’re looking forward to showing those things this week.’’
A win against a strong Bears’ line-up would go a long way to doing just that, given Shepparton’s 11-4 record sees it ranked second on the GVL ladder.
The Bears were too strong when the sides played at Victoria Park in round five, winning by 35 points in a game they led from start to finish.
‘‘They’re strong across the board, and have found form in that last week or so by touching up Benalla a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a strong midfield, with good key position guys at both ends, which allows their good kids to contribute as well. They’re pretty even with experienced leaders.’’
Tyler Phillips, who hurt his knee in a marking contest against the Swans, is still awaiting results from scans but won’t feature this week.
And Briggs hoped youngster Jonte Opie was cleared to play after a head knock last week saw him play just minutes on his senior debut.
■ECHUCA’S A grade netballers face a tough challenge this weekend in the run towards the Goulburn Valley League finals.
It will need to be at its best to beat the second-ranked Shepparton Bears, who sit with a brilliant 12-3 record entering round 16.
But the Murray Bombers enter full of confidence having knocked off Mooroopna and Shepparton Swans in the last two weeks.
The Bears took the points when the sides met in round five by a single goal, 45-44, but the loss sparked an exceptional run of form for the Murray Bombers, having won seven of their last 10 games to rebound from a 1-4 start to the year into finals contention.
The finals race is as hot as it gets, with just one win separating fourth position on the ladder from eighth.
Echuca is in seventh on the ladder, but has a favourable schedule in the last two rounds with Rochester (4-11) and Mansfield (1-14) to close the home and away season.
It has played consistent netball in the last two weeks, lapses in concentration having cost the side throughout the year.
Echuca coach Casey Frame has spoken of her pride in the young group’s performance, with six of the side’s eight regular players under 19 years old.