Kangas primed, Lee ruled out
Reigning premiers North Albany are set to be at full strength for their elimination first semifinal against Mt Barker on Sunday at Sounness Park, with Kris Ericson and Adam Ditchburn likely to return.
The Kangas have won only two of their past seven games and have lost twice to the Bulls this season, slipping to fourth place in the final round of the year last week.
Ericson and Ditchburn, both premiership players, will add valuable experience to the Kangas forward and defensive lines respectively after missing last week.
Despite a mixed season Kangas assistant coach Nathan Dovey believes his side are more than capable of reaching a preliminary final and keeping their quest for a sixth straight flag alive.
“We were pretty happy even though we lost by 32 last week to Royals who we rate as big premiership favourites,” he said.
“That was our best performance in the last few weeks. We feel a bit more confident after that; we found a couple of structural things that will improve us but we are under no illusions of the task.
“We have residual confidence from winning grand finals but they won the last game against us and they are playing at home so most would see Mt Barker as favourites.”
Ditchburn is trying to return from a hamstring injury but was left out last week to improve his chances of inclusion this week while the Kangas will await how youngster Rhori Williams-Jolley trains this week with sore ribs.
Dovey said the Bulls pose a difficult task on their home deck.
“Dooper and Wynne are a handful, Goose (Henderson) in the ruck and Sam Lehmann despite his age still has an influence in most games,” he said.
“In saying that we’ve got good players to counter them as well. That’s what will make it a great game of footy.”
The Bulls had mixed news on the selection front with John Lee ruled out for the sudden death final but Kym Monteath, Daniel Henderson and Leigh Conway will all play.
Lee was attempting a comeback from a dislocated ankle but coach Brad Hook said he didn’t train this week, ruling him out of the Kangas showdown.
The Bulls beat the Kangas by 31 points in their most recent encounter and also won the round 9 clash but Hook said the five-time premiers can never be forgotten.
“We go in with a bit of confidence, having beaten them twice this year,” he said.
“They have got a fantastic finals record and have too many experienced guys to be taken lightly.
“We need to play at our absolute best.
“Just win games of footy from here, that’s the message.”
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