Wodonga Raiders’ coach Daryn Cresswell says he’s looking to settle the side as it faces a brutal three-week period which will dictate its top three hopes.
Raiders have averaged five changes over the past month, but have made just two heading into Saturday’s home game against Yarrawonga, with Albury and Wangaratta to follow.
“We’ve made some precedents about how we play and there’s been some players that haven’t performed at the level that we needed,” Cresswell said.
“We made a real strong stance on leaving those players out, but we’ll try and keep our side as settled as we can as long as the players are contributing in the manner we want them to.
“Everyone knows points are an issue for us, so there’s blokes who carry points and if they can’t contribute how we want them to (they won’t play).”
Raiders carried 34 of the maximum 38 points against North Albury, which had the league’s most at 37.
Former QAFL forward Sam Stubbs carries five and after kicking four goals, he retains his spot.
“He’s had to wait his time and he had nine shots on goal,” Cresswell said.
“He’s got some X-factor, he’s a different type of forward, he’s got that mercurial goal sense.”
And fellow recruit – ex-Goulburn Valley star Daniel Bowles – is also making an impact.
“Yeah definitely, like any new player to not only a club, but competition, it takes time to find your feet,” Cresswell said.
“He’s been excellent the last few weeks. We throw him forward, because he’s dangerous, he’s super quick and athletic and he can kick goals.
“We can also put him in the ruck and push him back behind the ball again, so he’s got great flexibility.”
Raiders have lost just the one game – to Albury by 44 points in round two - and are on a six-match winning streak.
Another reason for the club’s surge has been the form of the Rouse twins in defence, particularly Jordan.
“Excellent, fantastic, both of them have put on a bit of size and they both play key roles,” Cresswell said.
Jordan has featured in Raiders’ best in five matches.
“I’ve enjoyed it the most this year, I’ve been put down at fullback and been thrown around a little bit less,” he said.
“When I came up here I was thrown about in the ruck and half-forward, I think I’m just settled.”
If Raiders can topple the Pigeons, it will have a two-game break on the fourth-placed visitors with nine rounds left.
It means Yarrawonga will probably need to topple at least one of the grand finalists.