LAVINGTON coach James Saker says sitting on top of the ladder doesn’t put any extra pressure on the Panthers heading into tomorrow’s match against Yarrawonga.
Saker said Lavington was in fact relishing the importance of their weekend clash against the reigning premier.
The Panthers are just two wins away from sealing top spot and earning the first week off in finals.
“The fact we are still in that battle for top spot shows we are in a great place,” Saker said.
“We aren’t shying away from it.
“It’s a game we’re really looking forward to.
“It’s a good chance for us to home in on the things we need to be doing in finals and this is a dress rehearsal, if you like.
“It’s a good challenge for the group at this time of year.”
Saker, who will all but certainly get the job of trying to curtail Yarrawonga spearhead Brendan Fevola, said the Panthers were expecting a fierce challenge from the premier team of the past two seasons.
“You just have to look at their firepower,” Saker said.
“It’s pretty much unmatched in the competition.
“They have premiership players all over the ground.”
The Panthers undoubtedly enter tomorrow’s match of the round as favourites after stunning the reigning premier by 45 points at J.C. Lowe Oval in round 8 without Adam Prior, Myles Aalbers, Matt Pendergast, Mitch Palmer, Sam Harris, Kade Stevens and Nick Meredith.
Saker said that counted for little tomorrow.
“We’re not going to get four points on Saturday looking back on the last time we played them,” he said.
“They’ve definitely improved.
“Their form from last week suggests to me they are tracking well.
“They’ve obviously been on the record for a while saying this is the time of the year they’ve been working towards.”
The Panthers last night included star forward Justin Koschitzke for the first time since they stunned Albury by 12 points in round 14.
Sam Hargreave and Tom Plunkett also came in for injured duo Will Lenehan (shoulder) and Jay Banks (fractured fibula).
Brad Boots was omitted.
Yarrawonga made just the single change, with ruckman Steve McKee returning to the side at the expense of Jarryd Whinray.