GRFL - Hopes challenged

RUN. Simon Morton's midfield presence will be pivotal for Murrabit tomorrow.

RUN. Simon Morton's midfield presence will be pivotal for Murrabit tomorrow.

LAST season's Golden Rivers Football League grand finalists will meet tomorrow in a match that will define the top-four hopes of each side.

Defending premiers, Murrabit travel to Ultima needing to win to keep its finals hopes alive, whilst the 'Roos will look to reclaim top spot on the ladder following last weekend's loss to Nullawil.

Ultima's defeat six days ago reshaped the race for the finals, with the result leaving the Blues – who go into the game on the back of the round 12 bye – one win and a large percentage gap behind the fourth-placed Maroons.

With Nullawil taking on ninth-placed Wakool tomorrow, a second loss to Ultima this year will leave the Blues two wins outside the top five with five games remaining.

The result of tomorrow's match will be just as pivotal for the 'Roos, who have dropped two of their past three matches after going through the first half of the season undefeated.

Although a loss will leave the 'Roos second on the ladder thanks to third-placed Hay having the bye, Jack O'Rourke's team could be one win off top spot if the hosts lose tomorrow and Wandella defeats Quambatook.

Ryan Devereux and Luke Kelson will be the two players Hugh Foott's side will need to contain if the visitors are to record their first win at Ultima since round five, 2015.

Devereux is relishing the chance of being Ultima's main goalkicking option, with Dylan Morison or Josh Bray to go to the playmaker, whilst Kelson – who is enjoying playing across the ground rather than his pre-2017 posting in the back line – may face a duel with Simon Morton.

Murrabit's last match was a 16-point win against Nullawil back on July 1 – a game dominated by Bryden Morison and Justin McConnell.

Brenton Pay or Lachlan Paull will go to McConnell – with the other to try and stop Nathan Henry from dominating – whilst the midfield battle between Bryden Morison and Tom Bull will be a highlight.

Ultima defeated Murrabit by 40 points when the teams last met in round four. A similar result may be on the cards tomorrow.

PREDICTION: Ultima will win by 30 points.

Season on the line

QUAMBATOOK'S finals hopes will be on the line tomorrow when the sixth-placed Saints host competition leaders, Wandella.

Tim Free's side is two wins off fourth spot on the ladder and with Nullawil taking on Wakool, the Saints need to win to remain in touch with the leading pack.

It is a different situation for the Bombers, who moved to top spot on the ladder thanks to an 82-point win against Moulamein and benefited from Ultima's loss to the Maroons.

Despite going down to Hay by 44 points last weekend, the five-goal performance from Chris Kendall will give Saints fans hope that the hosts could produce an upset – as long as the team's midfield and defence are firing.

Gregor Knight and Jack Baker will be pivotal players for the Saints, with the pair facing a battle with Isaac Hogan and Sam Taylor. Whichever combination wins this contest will be on the winning side come 5pm tomorrow.

Ryan Lancaster or Tim Robinson will be best suited to battle with either Kendall or Andrew Hughes, with Free needing to find suitable match-ups to stop Paul Graying, Blake Anderson and Sam Sperling from dominating in front of goal for the visitors.

Wandella won by 56 points when these teams last met in late April, and a similar result will end Quambatook's finals hopes.

PREDICTION: Wandella will win by 60 points.

Second win for Tigers?

SEVEN days after winning its first match since August 2016, Macorna will look to produce a second victory of the year tomorrow at Moulamein.

Despite losing to the Swans by 45 points back in round four, the way the Tigers brushed aside Wakool in last weekend's 183-point win will give Macorna coach, Michael Rowe confidence.

Macorna became only the second side this season to kick more than 200 points against the Hawks – the other being Nullawil – with pre-season recruits Daniel Edwards and Ricki Waters leading the way.

Last weekend was a different story for the Swans, who were no match for Wandella in an 82-point loss.

A home-side win tomorrow will ensure the Swans will have produced their best season since 2011 - and with the likes of Tom Isma and Ben Booth controlling play in the middle of the ground, Moulamein should record its first home win against the Tigers since 2011.

Isma will be best suited to take on Joel Dwyer in the middle of the ground, with Booth to battle with Sam Ayre in the ruck contests.

Matthew Pearse and Matthew Battenally will unite to try and stop Edwards and Waters from dominating for a second consecutive week, whilst Macorna defenders, Tristan McIntosh and Brad Short will need to stop Patrick Caldwell and Max Baldissera in front of the home team's goals.

PREDICTION: Moulamein will win by 30 points.

How far for Maroons?

KAL Heslop could all but secure the GRFL's goalkicking award in Nullawil's match against Wakool.

The Maroons spearhead – who holds a one-goal lead over Hay's Jackson Ferguson - has booted 53 goals for the season, and only needs seven more majors to record his best season since joining the club in 2014.

This should be achieved tomorrow at Wakool, with the forward booting 13 goals in the Maroons' 195-point win against the Hawks back in late April.

Nullawil amassed more than 200 points in the last encounter between the sides, and with the Hawks – who missed Luke Kikland last weekend in the club's 183-point loss to Macorna – not boasting the midfield strength of the visitors, another one-sided affair is certain.

Joe Thompson will be the Hawks' main attacking option in the middle of the ground, but he will struggle to get the ball off the likes of Kyle Doran and Daniel Watts.

Reagan Hamilton will patrol the Hawks' half-back line, but will be no match for Andrew Oberdorfer, whilst Joel Webb and Tyson Webb may be the Hawks' best scoring options if Kirkland does not play.

PREDICTION: Nullawil will win by at least 100 points.

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