Lavington's James Saker says he has confidence in umpires, ahead of grudge match against Albury

Albury star Daniel Cross will play his first game in six weeks.

Albury star Daniel Cross will play his first game in six weeks.

Lavington coach James Saker says he has complete confidence in the umpires, ahead of the home grudge match against Albury on Saturday.

Albury and Yarrawonga produced the fieriest match of the season last week, although no players were reported.

“I expect it to be a physical game, they always are, which is good,” Saker said.

“I think if things get out of hand, the umpires just need to pay free kicks.

“You see it in the AFL when there’s too much argy-bargy going on, they pay a few free kicks and players quickly go back to playing the ball.

“I trust the umpires will manage that.”

Albury has the minor premiership in its keeping, but it’s a different story for the Panthers, who are involved in the four-way logjam for the final three spots.

Lavington is equal with Yarrawonga and Wodonga Raiders on 40 points, with the three set to face each other over the final three rounds.

Raiders have the advantage of playing bottom-placed Corowa-Rutherglen in the penultimate round, but all three need to keep winning to hold off sixth-placed Wodonga.

“The split round has given us a chance to narrow our focus for the run home,” Saker said.

“It’s either a case of boys, we can have a really good two months or the alternative is the season could be over before we know it.”

Lavington is a perennial finalist in recent years and has played the last two grand finals, falling to Albury.

It lost a number of experienced players over summer, including midfielders Matt Pendergast and Kade Stevens, but the club would still expect to play finals and make an impact.

But that won’t be easy given its run, particularly starting with Albury.

The Tigers will welcome back former AFL star Daniel Cross.

He hasn’t played for six weeks, since facing North Albury on July 1.

Cross does the running for AFL outfit, Melbourne, and all opposition teams in the hunt for O and M finals will be sweating on the Demons making finals, therefore increasing the chances of the hard-running defender playing a limited role in September.

The Tigers have also named defender Michael Duncan for his first game in six weeks.

Duncan injured his knee early against North.

Forward Jimmy Grills is an emergency.

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