BANGED up, weary and without a hope of making the SEABL playoffs, the Albury-Wodonga Bandits appear to have very little left to play for.
The Border club has lurched along at a mediocre, and at times disastrous, path this season resulting in a 3-14 record and a firm foothold in the lower reaches of the East conference.
But skipper Michael Watson says there’s still plenty of work left to do, if only as preparation for an improved campaign next year.
“It was the first thing Ice (coach Brad Chalmers) said at training on Tuesday — we’re not taking our foot off the pedal,” Watson said.
“If anything, it will be the complete opposite, we’ll keep preparing like we will be making the playoffs.
“Otherwise there’s nothing to build on for next year.
“So for us, there’s still plenty to play for.
“The guys are definitely sticking to it, everyone is still doing all the little things in terms of preparation and recovery.”
Having endured two long, tough and ultimately futile road trips in successive weeks, the Bandits play host to the resurgent Kilsyth Cobras tonight on their home court at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre.
Riding a seven-game losing streak, Albury-Wodonga has already ruled out Josh McKay (ankle), Jack Duck is in serious doubt with a foot injury sustained last weekend and import guard Deuce Briscoe is nursing a hand complaint but is expected to play.
Conversely, the Cobras head up the Hume Highway with a 10-6 record — good for third spot in the south conference — and a talented line-up that will sorely test the Bandits’ depth.
Of particular concern will be Kilsyth’s three-headed monster of Australian players Tim Lang, Joel Naburgs and Kyle Adnam, who have all stepped up in the absence of star Auryn Macmillan and import Dain Swetalla.
“They’re a tough team, surprising everybody this year,” Watson said.
“They don’t have any huge stars but they’re all playing well together.
“For us, the key will be to play like we did in the first half against Mount Gambier last weekend.
“We controlled the tempo and got them out of their comfort zone.
“It’s crucial we can play on our terms rather than be forced to plan B or plan C.
“Kilsyth like the pace to be fast and this season, when we’ve let the tempo get out of hand it’s been lights out for us so we need to be wary of that.”