Sport

Catch-up to be no howdy-do

By Tyler Maher

With only one Murray Football League fixture scheduled today there could be a huge swell of support headed to Tungamah’s Jubilee Park.

The Bears will host Katandra in a catch-up game from round one, while the rest of the competition puts its collective feet up.

Tungamah co-coach Jeremy O’Brien is looking forward to facing the Kats — a fellow ex-Picola league outfit — and hopes the standalone nature of the match attracts neutral onlookers from across the region.

‘‘We’re looking forward to the challenge and facing an old Picola league club, it will be great,’’ O’Brien said.

‘‘Obviously they’re in pretty good form after knocking off Shepp East last week.

‘‘Hopefully with it being a standalone game a few more people will take the opportunity to come out and see some country footy.’’

The Bears have started to get on a roll after a slow start to the season, winning their past two games against Tongala and Congupna.

It has left O’Brien’s side just two games outside the top eight, and with two matches in hand on every team except the Kats, his charges could be primed for a late-season surge up the table.

‘‘We’re starting to get a good run with injury, so we’re close to full strength,’’ O’Brien said.

‘‘Our fitness is improving too, so if we can keep healthy and keep getting fitter, we’ll be in a good spot.’’

A pair of Bears have stood out above the rest during this campaign.

Ash Saunders is on fire in attack with 42 goals in only nine matches, while reigning Picola league south-east division Pearce medallist Bodhi Butts has continued his dominance in the midfield — including being named his side’s best player in each of his past seven games.

‘‘Ash is pretty hard to stop in front of goals,’’ O’Brien said.

‘‘Even when he’s competing against two or three defenders his hands are really good.

‘‘Bodhi is a real inside mid, he’s had a few heavy tags, but still manages to find the footy.’’

James Irvine, Jarrod O’Shea, Drew Haebich, Nick Irvine and Brady Hayes were great in Tungamah’s win against the Blues and will be crucial again today.

For the Kats, last week’s win against the Eagles was a well-deserved reward for a season of fighting hard to stay in matches.

While Ramadan Yze’s charges have secured only two victories, they have continually pushed teams above them on the ladder.

Corey Hickford’s five goals and Brady Black’s three helped their side claim success last round, while Xavier Chalkley, Will Jeffery, Yze and Matt Riordan were also impressive.

While many of Katandra’s troops are in their maiden Murray league campaign, players like Russell Eden have plenty of experience in this competition in the past and have helped guide the club in the right direction.

‘‘It’s been good,’’ Eden said.

‘‘It’s been a really good challenge for us obviously coming from the Picola league, so to step up to here has been really good for the boys to see what really good, competitive footy is like.

‘‘We’ve really enjoyed the challenge.

‘‘In the clubrooms we’ve got a stats sheet that shows our consistency rating and I think once it clicks we’re really going to give these teams a run for their money.

‘‘But we’ve got a young side, so we’ve got to try and string four quarters together and hopefully the result takes care of itself.’’

A big win against Deniliquin in round five was Katandra’s first success of the year, and with a tough draw to come the Kats will be targeting today’s clash as a great opportunity to make it three triumphs for the season.

Last time these two sides met was July 29 last year, but that clash would feel like an age ago to the members of the line-ups which take to the field today, given all that has happened in the past 12 months.

The result in that clash was a resounding 162-point win to the Bears, and when added to 54-point and 82-point margins earlier in that season in favour of today’s home side as well it makes for grim reading for the Kats.

But Yze’s charges will focus on harnessing the momentum garnered from last week’s triumph in order to give the Bears a run for their money.