Myrtleford co-coach Terry Burgess has declared Wangaratta the competition favourites.
Albury is the only undefeated team and sits two wins ahead of the premiers, but Burgess saw Wangaratta’s power last week.
“We probably played better than two goals, we probably played an eight-goal game, but missed a few shots,” he said.
“But Wangaratta was really good, they’re the best side we’ve played this year.
“Their ball movement was fantastic, Albury was next best, but so far ‘Wang’s’ been the best.”
They’re the best side we’ve played this year. Their ball movement was fantastic, Albury was next best.Terry Burgess
The Saints fell at home by 121 points to Albury in round five, prior to the Pies’ 141-point demolition.
“I reckon the outside run might be a bit better than Albury,” Burgess said of the two powerhouses.
“There’s a few more strings to the bow, there’s the one big forward (Michael Newton) and good players everywhere and outside run would probably be the difference.”
The Pies have tremendous pace in the Richards’ siblings – Joe and Nick – while Jessie Smith is also dangerous.
Wangaratta ended a nine-year premiership drought last year when it stunned Albury in one of the biggest grand final upsets of the modern era.
The Pies boasted a forward lineup unlikely to be seen again under the player points system.
Newton and Ben Speight had AFL experience, while man mountain Josh Porter (VFL) and Tom Whittlesea (SANFL) also played at a high level.
Only Newton remains, although the club has picked up former Footscray VFL premiership player Mitch Jensen, who’s set to miss a fortnight with a hairline fracture of the wrist.
Burgess’s claim will only add to the excitement ahead of the grand final re-match on June 30.
Albury thrived on the ‘us v them’ mentality during Paul Spargo’s reign and while the club doesn’t carry that philosophy, to the same degree, it will be noted.