HAS Mick Caruso timed his run into the finals with perfection?
This time last year, he had his team within a kick of a grand final, which would have been a distant memory only a few weeks ago.
Since then he has had some key players return and find form and now pose a genuine threat to a Lavington team looking to rebound from a heavy loss to Yarrawonga.
I had a good look at Rovers at the weekend and their speed of ball movement was impressive.
The likes of Stone, Bishop, Pollard and Toby Ryan in particular were quick and creative in the midfield and forward.
All of those guys will need to feature again this weekend as Rovers look to move the ball quickly through the Lavington press.
Caruso would have been rapt to see Dan Leslie anchored in the North Albury defence, but wouldn’t have been thrilled to concede 16 goals. I don’t see a scoreline like the one we saw on the weekend repeating itself this week, with both teams priding themselves on strong defensive attitudes.
Hartwig, Hill and Lowe at one end, Saker, Muggivan and Butler at the other could see this game turn into a real grind.
Lavington will surely bounce back.
Saker’s team confronted a fired-up Yarrawonga and this time around came up a fair bit short.
There was some talk about the Lavington press falling down but it’s hard to set up a forward line press when the ball is at the other end of the ground.
Clearly the Panthers would be disappointed with their performance in the midfield and their work around centre bounces and stoppages will need to improve significantly for them to rebound.
That job is made all the more difficult without their best inside player Matt Pendergast but there is too much quality in this side for them not to respond.
You don’t win 15 out of 19 games without the fortitude to find another level when required.
I think the Panthers might do that this week.
The verdict: Lavington by 23 points.