Tyson Hartwig faces heavy hitter

WANGARATTA Rovers coach Paul Maher will put his faith in captain Tyson Hartwig to curb in-form ­Wodonga Raiders spearhead Dean Limbach in Saturday’s vital clash at Birallee Park.

Limbach has started the season in a blaze of glory for last season’s wooden-spooner with 19 goals in three matches, including a devastating 10-goal bag against Wodonga on Anzac Day.

Maher said the ever-reliable Hartwig deserved first crack at the former Richmond player.

“He’s been in good form for the Raiders hasn’t he?” Maher said.

“He has been kicking a lot of goals.

“I dare say we will go with our captain Tyson Hartwig.

“Tyson has been pretty solid.

“He had a good hit-out early with Adam Prior last week but he just got away from him in the end.

“Tyson will really want to make amends for that and I have no doubt he will line up on him.”

Wangaratta R­overs and Wodonga ­Raiders are shaping as contenders for spots in the lower part of the top five after encouraging starts to the season.

The Raiders have fourth spot following wins against winless Myrtleford and Wodonga while the Hawks, after a tougher draw, sit seventh on the ladder.

Maher’s options for Limbach have been further stretched with Ben Kneebone breaking his wrist against Lavington on Saturday and facing 10 weeks on the sidelines.

High-profile recruit James Mulligan is already out for two months with a knee injury.

The good news for the Hawks is that Hayden Lowe could return from an Achilles problem.

Maher said lapses in concentration had been a problem for the Hawks in their matches against North Albury, Albury and Lavington.

“We were strong in the first half last week, but probably let ourselves down in the second-half a little against a good side,” he said. “We are trying to educate the boys about the way we want to play the game and we are only three weeks into the season.”