LAVINGTON coach James Saker says he is wary of a new-look Wangaratta Rovers and expects today’s clash at W.J. Findlay to be the Panthers’ toughest test so far this season.
Lavington, which sits on top of the ladder after two rounds, is expecting a fierce challenge when it makes the trip down the Hume this afternoon.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” Saker said.
“I think it will be a step up from the first two weeks.
“It’s never an easy place to go and win.”
The Hawks have split their opening two games and are a vastly different side to the one that was thumped by the Panthers in last year’s knockout semi-final.
Daniel Archer and Jarrad Boumann now roam the Hawks’ forward half.
Saker and Brant Dickson will line up on the pair of former AFL forwards today.
Archer was dominant in last week’s 57-point loss to Albury, with the former St Kilda tall rated best on ground in some circles.
Saker said Dickson was likely to start on Archer.
“They’ve obviously got a few big forwards who are looking quite ominous,” he said.
“Brant usually takes the forward who plays a bit higher up and, from what we’ve seen, that’s what Archer does.
“I think the key will be to hold up their ball movement.
“They’ve been quite dangerous when they’ve been able to get clean ball to them.”
Lavington trounced Myrtleford by 103 points last week, with star forwards Adam Prior and Justin Koschitzke combining for 10 goals.
But it was the Panthers’ ability to restrict the Saints to just three goals for the game that pleased Saker most.
“Our defensive discipline was where and it needed to be,” he said.
“We outnumbered them at the contest quite often, which is something we weren’t great at the week before.
“Quite a few of our younger guys stood up, which was pleasing.
“Two or three of them probably played their best game for the club.”
Will Lenehan, meanwhile, will make his senior debut for the Panthers after landing in Lavington’s lap late.
The half-back flanker was previously on North Ballarat’s TAC Cup list.
“He’s moved up for university and so landed on our doorstep, basically,” Saker said.
“He’s really settled in well.”