MURRAY Bushrangers are preparing to face a dramatically-improved Sandringham in their TAC Cup elimination final at Visy Park on Sunday.
Although the Bushrangers ran-out 65-point victors in round four, coach Leon Higgins said the return of key players from school football made them a much tougher proposition.
Morrish Medallist Liam Stocker heads a strong midfield while fellow draft fancy Ben King will command the attention of the Bushrangers’ defence.
Higgins said the Bushrangers needed to win the stoppages to give forwards Hudson Garoni and Zane Barzen scoring chances.
“It’s probably the contest where we need to win,” Higgins said.
“They have a good on-ball brigade and so do we.
“We will back in Ely (Smith) and Matt Walker who have been in good form.
“Dylan Clarke is a great competitor as well and we have good ruckmen in Floyd Bollinghaus and Ben Kelly to keep them under pressure.”
The Bushrangers have lost young Wangaratta Rovers tall Will Christie.
He was admitted to hospital on Sunday with inflammation on the outside lining of his heart and has been told to rest for several weeks.
Rory Quinn and Cameron Wilson have also dropped out of the side for Ben Kelly, Rob Paradzayi and Kye Davies.
The Bushrangers defeated Bendigo in the first week of the finals.
The match starts at 1.30pm.
The Bushrangers team is:
B, Paradzayi, Fiore, Adams; hb, Boyer, Murray, Boyd; c, Warner, Smith, Bice; hf, Chandler, Butts, Barzen; f, Frauenfelder, Garoni, Ash; foll, Bollinghaus, Walker, Clarke; inter, Irvine, Kelly, Bradshaw, Davies, Hollands; emerg, Dang, Amery, Oates.