NAB League Girls Round 8 preview: Knights to battle Falcons in grand final rematch

ROUND 8 of the NAB League Girls is set to be a big one, with the penultimate round seeing a number of season defining matches between closely ranked sides and a potential grand final preview to finish off the weekend.

CALDER CANNONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday May 4, 12:30pm
RAMS Arena

An intriguing match will open Round 8, with fifth ranked Calder hosting sixth ranked Bendigo. The Cannons certainly have the front-end talent to get the job done, however Bendigo’s form this season has been impressive as they continue to put on strong performances across the field. Calder will need to put on a better team performance across the board against Bendigo, after the likes of Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis combined for 63 disposals in the Round 7 loss to Geelong as the side struggled to convert. If the Pioneers can keep Calder’s stars quiet, the visitors may just have a big chance to steal their fifth win for the season. It’s difficult to call a winner in this match with both teams sitting just outside the top 4, on the same win-loss tally (four wins, three losses), so while both sides have the ability and skill to take control, Calder may just scrape by with the win on home soil.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 4, 1:00pm
Shepley Oval

With the return of some big names this round, seventh ranked Dandenong will hope to make one last push as they take on eighth ranked Murray in the second game on Saturday afternoon. It is unlikely either of these teams will make finals now given the percentages of higher teams on the ladder, however strong efforts from both sides could go far in bumping teams out of the running for finals contentions. Dandenong put in a good defensive effort last round but ultimately were outrun by Oakleigh, so will want to up their consistency to buffer the efforts of Murray as they come into this match off the back of a win last round, with intensity and pressure key attributes of their 13 point victory.

WESTERN JETS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Sunday May 5, 11:00am
Avalon Airport

Sunday morning’s matchup between Western and Sandringham is set to be an interesting one, with both sides sitting on two wins and five losses coming into this Round 8. Western are coming into this matchup with confidence off the back of a 37 point win against competition newbies, Tasmania Devils, so will want to put their kicking boots on to keep the ball locked inside 50 and create scoring opportunities again this week. The Dragons had a shocker against Murray in Round 7, kicking 1.11 on their way to a 13 point defeat after two wins on the trot brought a sense of momentum back to the side, so the Jets will want to capitalise on their issues and use their strong pressure off half back to reduce entries into their defensive 50. Sandringham will want to put themselves in a position to take advantage of the Jets’ movement through the midfield and put pressure on the footy at every opportunity to deliver the ball inside 50 and get a third win on the board.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 5,
Morwell Recreation Reserve

Gippsland finally managed their first win for the season in Round 7, however Eastern’s strong season so far will likely prove too strong for the Power this week. Despite having a home ground advantage, the odds are in the Ranges’ favour off the back of a narrow win against Tasmania Devils last round to form their now two-game winning streak. Some good performances across the board for the Power have seen the side improve over the past few weeks, however if the Ranges can kick straight on the weekend they should come away with a good win to solidify their finals chances. Gippsland will want to ensure their pressure in defence is on, with an opportunity to limit goals that could ultimately bump Eastern out of finals contention based on percentage.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday May 5, 12:45pm
Avalon Airport

With just one win on the board, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will be looking for a strong performance against the Chargers in Round 8, though Oakleigh’s form, with 33 and 54 point wins over Dandenong and Gippsland, has propelled them into fourth on the ladder as they head into the final rounds of the season. The Chargers need a win this week to give the side a genuine shot in finals, so are likely to come in hard and fast against the Rebels to control from the get-go. GWV put in the hard yards early last week before a second half push from Gippsland handed the Power their first win of the season, so the Rebels will want to put in a harder effort this round and up their consistency against an arguably stronger side in Oakleigh. Oakleigh’s forward pressure has put them on the map this season, so the side will want to continue their good form inside 50 in order to finish well.

GEELONG FALCONS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 5,
Deakin University, Geelong

This match up between first and second on the ladder is set to be one of the blockbusters of the season, with the Falcons and Knights controlling the competition week-in and week-out. With both sides likely to make finals, this match has all the pressure and skill to be a potential grand final preview, while both sides certainly have the talent and intensity to make it. Defensively, the Knights will want to control entries forward and create stoppages to disrupt the flow of Geelong’s movement down field, with depth no issue for the home side. If the Falcons can force their way through Northern’s settled defensive unit the Knights will need to stay composed and controlled to create opportunities to carry the ball back forward. The Knights have a hard slog ahead of them, with the defensive pressure of Geelong’s backline significant, having only had 76 points scored against them in seven rounds. However, Northern’s forward line has some real talent that consistently fires with accuracy and volume. With both sides having similar strengths across the field, this matchup is certainly the one to watch this weekend.

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