ESSENDON DOUTTA STARS v ABERFELDIE
Saturday 2:15pm at Nipper Jordan Oval
ESSENDON Doutta Stars has fared well to be at 2-2 and in fifth place on the ladder to start the season.
Its two wins over Airport West and Maribyrnong Park serve as validation that the Stars are on the rise, but with losses to Pascoe Vale and Greenvale also on its CV, it remains evident they’re probably not in premiership conversations just yet.
The improvement looks to have occurred forward of centre, with Alex Boyse (eight goals), Marcus Calvaresi (six) and Mitch Jones (five) all in good form, but it isn’t yet resulting in consistent high scoring.
Bruno Laguda’s form has also been particularly impressive but that has, unfortunately for Douttas, resulted in him getting a run with Essendon’s injury-depleted VFL side.
If the Bombers keep him on hold for Sunday’s clash against Sandringham, then the Stars’ task here against Aberfeldie will be that little bit more challenging.
Aberfeldie’s back line is second to none, as shown by its highest points-against total coming to just 76 against Airport West in Round 2.
Going the other way, the Gorillas boast a powerful three-pronged attack that includes Jayden Foster, Kyle Reimers and Josh Pound, who have combined for 29 goals already in just four games.
If the midfield battle breaks even then this will come down to scoreboard pressure, so a good start is vital here for Essendon Doutta Stars.
AVONDALE HEIGHTS v STRATHMORE
Saturday 2:15pm at Canning Reserve
Avondale Heights has also been affected by VFL selection.
Hisham Kerbatieh is probably leading the club’s best-and-fairest count with seven goals to his name after three rounds, but was taken away from Canning Street by Williamstown in Round 4.
In a dismal Seagulls performance, Kerbatieh picked up 11 disposals.
If he doesn’t retain his spot for Williamstown then Donald McDonald will be more than happy to have him back, because this is a very winnable games for the 1-3 Heights.
Strathmore also sits at 1-3 after what has been a tricky opening month of the season, with all three losses coming against sides currently in the top four.
Unlike the Heights, who are in a development phase, the Mores do have finals aspirations and cannot afford to fall to 1-4, so this is their biggest game of the year to date.
With skipper Andrew Horne suspended, Strathmore needs its playmakers to step up, particularly up forward.
In the ANZAC Day win over Glenroy, Josh Helliwell and Athan Tsialtas were the two who stood tall as marking options inside 50.
To counter the likes of Avondale Heights top-enders Ciaran Sheehan, Scott Harding and Bradley Robb, Mores coach Matthew Horne should be demanding a big performance from his 22 to get the job done.
On talent Strathmore is the favourite, but not by much.