LAVINGTON coach James Saker has put the blowtorch on the Panthers ahead of today’s blockbuster against Albury, saying they haven’t been playing that well, despite sitting on top of the ladder.
Lavington is unbeaten after four rounds but faces its biggest test at Albury Sportsground.
Saker said there was no doubt the Panthers had to play their best game of the season to win.
“We’ve certainly played well in patches but we need a more consistent output from 21 players because anything less than that won’t stack up in this game,” Saker said.
“To be honest, I don’t think we’ve been working hard enough and have been getting by on talent at times.
“That’s not the way we want to play our footy.”
The Panthers have beaten Wodonga, Myrtleford, Wangaratta Rovers and North Albury in their opening four games and Saker said his troops were looking forward to testing themselves against the best.
The Tigers have beaten the Panthers in four of their past five encounters, with last year’s heartbreaking one-point preliminary final loss still firmly etched in the mind of Lavington supporters.
“We’re really keen to back ourselves in and try to test our style of footy against a really good side,” Saker said.
“That’s the exciting part for us.
“We’ve got our style that, as a group, we’ve really bought into and we are keen to see how we go.”
Saker, who took 14 marks and had 24 touches in defence against the Hoppers last weekend, said he wasn’t expecting any surprises.
“We’re pretty aware of what they’ll bring to the table, and I’m tipping they’ll be the same with us,” he said.
Injured duo Myles Aalbers (ankle) and Luke Garland (back) are both expected to return against Wodonga Raiders next week.
“Myles has recovered really well but he just couldn’t quite train fully on Thursday, so we ruled him out,” Saker said.
“If he got through, he would have played.
“The plan with Luke is next week.”
Reigning best and fairest winner Garland is yet to play a game this year.