MILAWA will enter Saturday’s clash with Bonnie Doon, who Demons coach Luke O’Keefe believes has “flown under the radar”, hoping to stay in touch in the race for a spot in the top two.
Both teams have enjoyed successful starts to the season, sitting on six wins apiece, but O’Keefe is confident the Demons’ miserly defence will help them across the line.
Defender Jeremy Hourigan is set to line up on Bombers powerhouse Josh Evans, while O’Keefe is backing his midfield to help counter the Bombers’ forward pressure.
“Jeremy is a good stopper and I’m confident that he can get the job done against Evans,” he said.
“But our ability to win the ball in the middle and from stoppages is where the game will be won and lost.”
Since their round 3 loss to Glenrowan, Milawa has recorded impressive wins over contenders Bright and the dangerous Moyhu on its way to four straight victories, and O’Keefe praised his team for its response.
“We were really disappointing against Glenrowan, but to the players’ credit they’ve all lifted since,” the coach said.
“We’ve improved our ball use, we’ve improved our pressure, and I think it’s been highlighted in our last few matches.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence at the moment, we’re as close as I think we’ll get to having a full-strength list at this stage, and we have a good advantage at our home ground.”
The importance of the third versus fourth matchup wasn’t lost on O’Keefe, with the loser set to drop a further game behind unbeaten ladder leaders Glenrowan and the second-placed Bright, who look more than likely to take the points against a struggling Goorambat outfit.
“We’re absolutely aiming for a spot in the top two, there’s a significant advantage to be had from finishing that high up,” O’Keefe said.
“It’s the embodiment of an eight-point game.
“All the teams towards the top of the ladder are really even, so winning will be huge.
“Bonnie Doon is a quality side, they’re certainly travelling very well.”