WANGARATTA Rovers underlined their defensive capabilities when they ran out 53-point winners over Myrtleford on Saturday.
Sunday’s elimination final showdown with North Albury looks certain to be won and lost in the Hoppers’ forward line after key Hawk defenders Tyson Hartwig and Hayden Lowe starred in Saturday’s 113-60 win.
They restricted the Saints to just one goal in the first half.
Rovers’ coach Mick Caruso said there was little doubt the Hawks’ backline had another big job in front of them this week.
“North has got a few options down there,” Caruso confessed.
“Prior, Maksymow and Leslie kicked 14 between them on Saturday.
“But Hayden and Tyson have been terrific.
“To only allow the opposition to kick one goal in the first half is terrific from a defensive point of view.”
And while Caruso couldn’t hide from the importance of those defensive battles, he said the Hawks’ forward line had more than a part to play in yesterday’s battle at McNamara Reserve.
Four of those 11 first-half majors came from the boot of Joel Coombes in the second quarter.
The former Myrtleford livewire finished with five goals on Saturday and again highlighted his match-turning capacity.
Shane Gaston bounced back from a disappointing showing in last week’s Wangaratta derby with another effective performance up forward.
Alex Marklew again highlighted his class with two goals, while Daniel McCullough and Ryan Stone each bobbed up with two of their own.