SOUTH Bendigo coach Brady Childs has stopped short of describing this weekend’s clash with Gisborne as a must-win for his side, but isn’t understating its importance to the Bloods’ BFNL fortunes.
South sits half a game behind the sixth-placed Bulldogs heading into tomorrow’s clash at the QEO and has been inconsistent to start the season.
Encouraging performances against Kyneton and Golden Square have been in contrast to disappointing showings against Sandhurst and Eaglehawk, and the Bloods were soundly beaten to the tune of 82 points by Strathfieldsaye last weekend.
“They’re the best side we’ve played,” Childs said of the Storm this week.
“Strath and Eaglehawk are both really, really good, but I think Strath spread a bit harder and more effectively away from the contest.”
Ramping up the stakes is the form of the Dogs, which has been on a noticeable uptick.
Gisborne took down the fancied Golden Square last weekend and has Clinton Young back in full flight to add experience to an ever-improving young list.
A win for South is crucial. If the Bloods lose they could sit as many as six points outside the top five at the season’s halfway mark.
“There’s no doubt it’s a big game, in a way you can understand losing to sides like Strath and Eaglehawk given that they’re so good but we really have to beat those sides around us,” Childs said.
South will be without defender Daniel Nalder, who will miss the next fortnight through suspension.
The Bloods also need to claw back some percentage, sitting at 95 per cent through eight games 33 percentage points behind Gisborne (128 per cent).
In a year where smashings of cellar-dwellers Maryborough, Castlemaine and Kangaroo Flat are almost guaranteed, percentage will be king in deciding the finals race.
Those percentage woes have been compounded by a continued lack of scoring, South averaging just 76.25 points per game.
“I think there’s been some execution issues there in terms of scoring, but we have turned the footy over when attacking and sides have taken it the other way on us and we’ve been a bit slow to react to that,” he said.
“I think that contested part of the game is always key but against a side like Gisborne even more so.”
In other BFNL round nine games, Kangaroo Flat hosts Strathfieldsaye, Golden Square is at home against Kyneton, Castlemaine takes on Sandhurst at Camp Reserve and the winless Maryborough is up against Eaglehawk.