They beat us 36-21 in the clearances last time we played. After half-time it was a procession.Tom McGrath
ALBURY co-coach Tom McGrath believes Lavington deserve to be rated as the team to beat after a near faultless first-half of the season.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's top-of-the-table match at Albury Sportsground, McGrath said the Panthers were the best side his team had played.
The Tigers suffered a humiliating 71-point loss when the teams met in round two.
"They are playing good footy and deserve to be on top of the ladder," McGrath said.
"They beat us 36-21 in the clearances last time we played.
"After half-time it was a procession.
"They were on a roll and wanted to win more than us.
"It will be a good test on Saturday to see how far we have progressed since we last played."
Since losing to Lavington, Albury has reeled off seven successive victories and taken its game to another level since McGrath and Luke Daly took over at the helm from Peter German.
The Panthers' only blemish came against Wangaratta in round five.
"We have passed every test since we last played them but this is the biggest," he said.
"Lavington didn't have Dickson (Brant) or Flagg (Adam) last time we played them either so it's going to be a big challenge for the boys."
McGrath said Albury were planning for the dangerous Dickson to make his return from a shoulder injury after a long lay-off.
Meanwhile, St Patrick's will play Lavington in an under-16s match at 4.45pm immediately after Saturday's senior clash.