Yarrawonga, Lavington stars set to return for qualifying battle

YARRAWONGA and Lavington will welcome back a host of stars for Saturday’s qualifying final at W.J. Findlay Oval.

The Pigeons will regain premiership trio Craig Ednie, Brad O’Connor and Tyler Bonat, while the Panthers get back their coach James Saker and reigning club champion Luke Garland.

Just 12 points separated the teams the last time they met and Yarrawonga co-coach Chris Kennedy is expecting another arm-wrestle.

Kennedy, who coached his final game at J.C. Lowe Oval on Saturday, said there was no doubt the intensity would rise another level from their round 17 encounter.

“It will, it’s a final,” Kennedy said.

“The last game was played at a high intensity and we know it’s going to be another tight game.

“It was such a close game and both teams had a crack.

“I think both teams know it will come down to taking your moments when they come.”

In added boosts for the Panthers, classy defenders Zach Hopper and Will Lenehan should both be available for senior selection after managing injury complaints.

Hopper withdrew before the Panthers’ 28-point win over Corowa-Rutherglen on Saturday because of calf soreness, while Lenehan made a successful return from ankle troubles through the reserves.

Adam Flagg was managed for hamstring tightness but Saker said the livewire forward was a certain starter this week.

“He’s fine,” he said yesterday.

“We need to do the basics better than we did the last time we played them and our work rate needs to be up.

“They outworked us.”