Preview: Northern Blues vs. Sandringham

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A significant challenge and even bigger ramifications are in store for the Northern Blues tomorrow afternoon. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jonathan Di Maggio)

The Northern Blues will head into tomorrow’s big game with Sandringham looking for its fifth straight win.

With both sides sitting at 4-1 after five games, the match presents a huge opportunity for both clubs to solidify a strong beginning to the VFL year.

Carlton-listed trio Harry McKay, Rhys Palmer and Billie Smedts have all been included after missing last week’s win, while Simon White provides more experience to a resolute defensive unit.

While 25 AFL-listed players have been named, that will be cut down in alignment with Carlton’s team announcement on Friday night: all of the AFL extended bench has been included to Northern’s squad.

The voice out of Preston City Oval was consistent last weekend: despite a good showing against Casey, both coach Josh Fraser and captain Tom Wilson called for improvement and sustained effort on Saturday.

The upcoming game will provide another stark test for Northern, who have negotiated four consecutive challenges heading into the game.

Another historically strong club in the VFL in recent years, Sandringham have constantly found a way to win the close games this season: their four wins have been by an average of 13 points.

A 55-point win last week was on the agenda for the Blues last week, yet their work will be cut out for them if they are to enjoy a fifth straight win for the first time since 2009.

Josh Bruce will lead the attacking unit for Sandringham after making way for Patrick McCartin, while he’ll be ably supported by the recalled Josh Battle and Darren Minchington.

READ MORE: Opposition Watch: Round 6 vs. Sandringham

Both sides will be backing their firepower to kick a winning score, with Kristian Jaksch — who has been named at full-back — could potentially play up forward alongside Patrick Kerr and Harry McKay after a five-goal haul last weekend.

The midfield battle will be stacked with AFL-listed talent, as the likes of Sam Kerridge and Cameron Polson among others will go head-to-head with Nathan Freeman and Nathan Wright.

With Carlton playing in Perth on Sunday, tomorrow’s match at Preston will be the best chance for Victorian Bluebaggers to see their boys in action.

MATCH DETAILS
Round 6 VFL
Northern Blues vs. Sandringham Zebras
Preston City Oval
Saturday, May 20 — 2:00pm
Entry: $10 adults, $5 concession, Northern Blues members and children under 15 free
Please note, Carlton members are only guaranteed free entry to Northern Blues home games at Ikon Park.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kym Lebois:
Part of a damaging group of goal-kicking small forwards on offer, Lebois will be looking to build after making a successful VFL debut last week. Kicking a goal in his return from injury, Lebois was said to have shown signs of excitement by Josh Fraser: with Andrew Gallucci, Liam Sumner and debutant James Corboy with him, the Blues will be hoping one gets off the chain and has a big impact up forward.

Harrison Macreadie: Macreadie’s inclusion into the VFL side has seen him part of a defensive unit which has conceded just six goals in each of the last two weeks. Further to that, Northern’s opponents have only managed two goals to three-quarter-time in the last fortnight. Macreadie has earned the plaudits in his brief career to date at both AFL and VFL level: he’ll need to be at his best in the Blues’ defensive group against a potent Sandringham offence.

Andrew Phillips: Opposed to Jason Holmes and Lewis Pierce in the ruck, Phillips’ role is shaping as an important one in the context of tomorrow’s game. The ruckman’s ability to give his midfielders first-use in recent weeks has been central to Northern’s central dominance in recent weeks. Alongside Matthew Korcheck, the pair will have a significant test waiting for them this weekend from the first bounce at Preston.