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Roosters facing height test

From Ballarat Courier

COMBATING the height and power of Brad Ottens looms as North Ballarat's biggest headache in the Victorian Football League at Geelong's Skilled Stadium tomorrow.
If Ottens stood alone as tall timber for the Cats, his influence would not pose such a major threat.

However, the Selkirk Roosters will also need to deal with Charlie Gardiner and Henry Playfair in an attack full of big marking power.

So it comes as no surprise to see North Ballarat coach Gerard FitzGerald contemplating using youngster Justin Hardy at centre half back.

Not only does the teenager have the height, he also has the mobility and importantly growing confidence after shining against Tasmania on Sunday.

Shaune Moloney will be there to lend support as will Jesse Smith, who is improving with every game after basically missing all last year with an ankle injury.

The athletic Smith probably needs just one standout performance to force him back into the Kangaroos line-up in the AFL.

North Ballarat has its own big manpower in attack with Orren Stephenson and Tristan Cartledge floating between the ruck and forward line.

Frankston's strategy

From The Mercury
Reported by James Bresnehan

THE quickest path to goal will be the way Frankston plans to attack the swift Tasmanian Devils on the large expanses of Aurora Stadium in their VFL clash tonight.

The Dolphins are determined to avoid being pushed wide on the large Launceston paddock.

They will fight the handball-happy Devils with speed through the midfield, and avoid going the long way around -- as they did last week against the Cats.

"We played Geelong at Skilled Stadium last week and we pushed the ball too wide," Dolphins coach Brett Lovett said yesterday.

"We know we need to kicked a winning score against Tasmania and the best way to do that is to bring the ball straight through the middle of the ground."

The Dolphins are placed ninth on the VFL ladder and the Devils are 11th after three rounds.

Both have one win apiece, but Frankston has had a bye.

The Devils may find it hard to penetrate the Dolphins' backline, which has been one of the most efficient in the VFL over the past five seasons.

Stephens steps up for 50th game

From Launceston Examiner
Reported by Phil Edwards

TASSIE Devils co-captain Scott Stephens will line up for his 50th VFL game today in the Anzac Day commemoration clash against Frankston at Aurora Stadium tonight.

Devils coach Daryn Cresswell said yesterday that he hoped Stephens's milestone game would be added incentive for his teammates to beat the Dolphins.

"Although he didn't play with the Devils last year he has been a terrific contributor to Tasmanian footy and the Devils," Cresswell said.

"We've only had three guys play 100 games and Scotty is well on the way.

"Everyone likes to win milestones so it would be nice to get a win for him."

The Devils held a final full- squad training run at Aurora Stadium under lights last night and Cresswell said from a confidence point of view the team definitely needed a win.

"We've been working pretty hard but just obviously haven't got that four points which has been eluding us," he said.

"We've been in the games until three-quarter time against two quality oppositions but haven't been able to win which has been disappointing.

"The style of footy has been good and the guys should believe in it and we've seen it be successful - but we have to tighten up on the defensive side of our game and not give away silly free kicks - and the results will come our way," he said.

No great illusions

From Ballarat Courier

NORTH Ballarat coach Gerard FitzGerald has no illusions about Sunday's assignment against Geelong in the Victorian Football League at Skilled Stadium in Geelong.
FitzGerald says the Cats are the form team in the VFL.

North Ballarat and Geelong each have two wins in three games.

However, FitzGerald quickly points to the make-up of Geelong. With virtually an injury-free list at Skilled Stadium, the Cats will field a combination almost exclusively featuring AFL players.

The Selkirk Roosters will run square into the likes of ruckman Steve King, key forward Brad Ottens and Steve Johnson, who, bar a pre-season misdemeanor, would be playing in the AFL.

Ottens is still a chance to be promoted, having been named on an extended interchange with Brent Prismall, Joel Selwood, Travis Varcoe, Shannon Byrnes and Kane Tenace for Geelong's AFL line-up to play the Kangaroos on Sunday.

Changes made to lift defence

From The Mercury
Reported by Brett Stubbs

THE Devils are looking to shore up their defence after conceding at least 30 scoring shots in their past two losing games.

Key defenders Tom Collier and Gregg Sharman have been brought back into the teams, just two of nine new names in the 27-man squad to play Frankston tomorrow night under lights at Aurora Stadium.

Other significant inclusions include former Collingwood player Luke Shackleton, Kangaroos-listed Ben Ross after recovering from a shoulder injury, and Sam Whish-Wilson, who has served his one-match suspension for breaking team rules.

But co-captain Brett Geappen and veteran defender Ben Careless both have to pass fitness tests at training tonight to take their place in the team.

Kingborough's Jason Howard is expected to miss just the one week with bruised ribs, inside midfielder Leigh Adams has been promoted to the Kangaroos AFL team from their rookie list and Brody Johnson and Darren Crawford have been dropped.

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