Wangaratta Rovers’ co-coach Sam Carpenter says Wangaratta is the league’s best team.
The Pies handed the Hawks their greatest loss with a 170-point demolition.
“We were able to keep Albury to six goals in the first half but, based on today (Sunday), I think ‘Wang’ would have to be the flag favourites,” he said.
Myrtleford co-coach Terry Burgess also declared the Pies the team to beat, despite Albury’s unbeaten record.
Wodonga Raiders will be out to end Albury’s nine-match streak on Saturday.
“I think we’ll have to be a whole lot better,” coach Daryn Cresswell said after the 47-point win over Yarrawonga.
“We probably had about 10 or 11 players play in patches too much.
“We had some really good moments and then really poor moments, we don’t need players rolling in and out of games.”
It will be intriguing to see how much Raiders have developed in the eagerly-anticipated top of the table clash.
Raiders have picked up a beauty in former Goulburn Valley interleague player Daniel Bowles.
He was superb against the Pigeons, setting up a crucial goal midway through the third term when the visitors were launching a comeback.
“I definitely feel like I’ve been consistent, but I’m trying to improve every week.” Bowles said.
If Raiders are to topple the Tigers, they’ll need their ‘big four’ – Bowles, Brodie Filo, captain Jydon Neagle and assistant coach Jarrod Hodgkin – to fire, with the rest dragged along.
The greatest compliment you can give Yarrawonga’s Brandon Symes in that game is he produced a Josh Porter-type marking display.
The Wangaratta premiership player, who has played with the Pies this season while not at VFL club Werribee, is the best modern-day marking forward in the league.
Symes claimed 14 against Raiders and kept them in the hunt, winning his battle against Jordan Rouse, who’s been in outstanding form.
The Pigeons desperately need other avenues to goal if they’re any hope.
NICK OF TIME
Former SA country medal winner Nick Schmidt is getting closer to a game with North Albury after doing the running on Saturday.
The brother of Hoppers’ co-coach Chris won the Barossa Light and Gawler Football Association’s Schluter Medal in 2016.
“He was supposed to play Anzac Day but he injured his ankle in the pre-season,” co-coach Clint Gilson said.
“We’re hoping he will play in the second half of the season.”
The Hoppers have player points issues, so the trick will be to fit Schmidt in.
Much has been made of the poor crowds in recent years, but the spectators at Myrtleford’s thrilling home win over Wodonga certainly threw themselves into it.
“It (the thrilling finish) certainly brought the crowd into it,” Saints’ mentor Terry Burgess said.
“It was probably as good as you’d see from a spectator point of view, they were just enthralled in the game and that’s what the comp needs.”
And even though Wangaratta was always going to hammer Rovers, a solid crowd around the 1000 mark enjoyed the fine weather.