Bulls forced to make big adjustments
Mt Barker will be forced to make at least five changes to the side that beat Albany by 186 points in round 7, with travelling quartet John Lee, Kym Monteath, Daniel Dalby and Tyson Sujdovic, along with spearhead Daniel Parker, confirmed omissions for their clash with Royals on Saturday.
The Bulls sit second behind the Lions by only percentage and are coming off four consecutive wins, but the task of a victory at Sounness Park is rapidly growing with those five key players set to miss, along with injured captain Sam Lehmann, who has a broken hand.
Dalby and Sujdovic are unavailable for the round 8 fixture, while niggling injuries to Lee (knee) and Monteath (adductor strain) have ruled them out. After he was recruited in the off-season, last year’s Plaisted medallist Daniel Parker informed the Bulls this week of his decision to move to Perth, where he will play in the WAFL for East Fremantle.
Bulls coach Shane Thompson confirmed the five changes, meaning the kickers of 22 of their 30 goals against the Sharks will not be there to face the Lions.
“The way we have set our season up, there is no point risking them,” Thompson said.
“It’s just the way it’s fallen but if you take out 20-odd goals from the Sharks game, it’s going to be tough.
“I believe we still have a really good back line and our midfield is the best it has been, but we need to make up a forward line to score with.”
Thompson confirmed full-back Adam Tissott would return from injury and Kleemann medallist Matt Smith is another inclusion, while Ryan Ballard and Robbie Farmer are possible inclusions.
The Bulls kicked only four goals in their previous encounter this season and lost by 35 points at Centennial Stadium.
“We have always wanted to finish in the top two,” Thompson said.
“We were embarrassed by them last time we played them and we are still quietly confident.”
The Lions will not take a risk on injured youngsters Ben Watson and Cent Amores, who have shoulder injuries, while Aaron Gliosca is also unlikely to be fit to play.
Lions coach James McRae said he knew the importance of this fixture for his side’s top-two hopes.
“It is very important — it can set up our season or put us back in the pack,” McRae said. “We go into the game with confidence and will change our structure up this week and throw a few blokes around.
“Round 3 is probably irrelevant now — they were a new side on a new oval and they’ve got fitter since then, so we see this as a totally different game.”
Denmark-Walpole will host Railways at McLean Park, with the home side desperate to get their season back on track, while the Sharks tackle North Albany, also on Saturday afternoon.
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