SANDRINGHAM vs FRANKSTON Saturday 24th March – 7:30pm @ Sandringham Stadium
Sandringham vs Frankston represents a clash of ideologies, a study of contrasts that should nonetheless produce a fascinating contest.
The Sabres have an entirely new feel about them this year, and that can be attributed to their new recruits. In 2011, the Sabres were rudderless, especially when Beau Muhlbach was struck down with injury. They have a lot of young players who need firm direction from within the playing group, and apparently Luke Kendall has been able to offer that type of strong guidance. Their other newcomer, import Corey Cooperwood seems to be more in tune with the team than the outgoing Stanley Asumnu. Asumnu was a great athlete, but Cooperwood is a hard worker with the right attitude. While championships are not won in March, the Sabres formula looks a lot more dangerous than it did at the end of 2011.
Conversely Frankston look similar to the 2011 Blues. The loss of Hamin Quaintance will put pressure on Matt Witherden, Grant Dennis and the returning Dave Hankin, but there is no doubting this teams familiarity with each other. Witherden, Dennis, Hankin, along with Mitch Chapman, Michael Watson and Gavin Illangakoon have over 1,200 games experience between them. The Blues have also kept import Chuck Long, while Calvin Henry, their other import, seems to fit the role of an athlete who can operate around Dennis, Witherden and Hankin. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and for a team that surged to the playoffs last year with a nine-game winning streak, that seems like a reasonable philosophy to live by.
These bayside rivals have contrasting styles of play and even more contrasting rosters. But those types of distinctions usually lead to an absorbing game with plenty of twists as the combatants use their differences to gain an edge.
Prediction: Sandringham by 4.
MT GAMBIER vs BENDIGO Friday 23rd March – 8:00pm
In round 1, the Pioneers twice came within 3 points of claiming crucial away wins, while Bendigo were upset by Frankston. With one of the Braves imports still under an injury cloud, and with the Pioneers returning to their home court fortress, perhaps the home team should be favourites going into this one.
CANBERRA vs KNOX Saturday 24th March – 7:30pm
It was a case of the usual suspects for Knox last week against Dandenong. Massingale was scoring, Strong hit the boards, Hill dished assists and Philip popped up everywhere. Canberra will be on a high after their overtime win last week, but could come crashing back to earth with a thud against the talented Raiders.
GEELONG vs HOBART Saturday 24th March – 7:30pm
Geelong was unforgiving in their disposal of Nunawading in round 1, and there is no reason they will be any less merciless against Hobart. It would take a sudden turn around in form from Polk, Gregg, Banovic and Harris for the Chargers to stand any chance of an unlikely win.
ALBURY/WODONGA vs NW TASMANIA Saturday 24th March – 8:00pm
Albury/Wodonga promised a more committed effort prior to the season, and they delivered against the Pioneers with a season opening win, only for the old Bandits to reappear against Ballarat. Meanwhile, this is the first leg of a road double for the Thunder, and after a humbling loss last week, probably their best chance to bounce back with a win.
KILSYTH vs BALLARAT Saturday 24th March – 8:15pm
The Cobras v Miners clash could easily have been game of the week, as both teams will be confident after impressive wins last week, albeit in very different styles. Kilsyth’s import Garfield Blair is in top form, having won Player of the Week for round 1. Should be a cracker.
DANDENONG vs NW TASMANIA Sunday 25th March – 2:00pm
If the Rangers are serious about proving they have taken strides forward this year, they must get a win on the board against an underdog opponent. The Thunder conversely must show they are better than the lacklustre effort they turned out last week against Sandringham.
NUNAWADING vs HOBART Sunday 25th March – 2:30pm
The Chargers take on the 2010 and 2011 champions in their respective games this weekend. Drop both, and they sink to an 0-3 start. The Spectres however were far from convincing last week, and a win by Hobart could breath life back into their season.
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