The Highlighter – West Preston-Lakeside v Bundoora

Published on Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It will be a star-studded affair with the Roosters earlier in the week confirming Anthony Rocca’s selection, meaning he and Simon Prestigiacomo will go head to head with a Bundoora team that contains Cameron Cloke and Gary Moorcroft, as occurred in rounds 1 and 14 last season.

After an inconsistent and, at times, frustrating opening two months of the season, West Preston-Lakeside appears to now be finding the form that had it touted as one of the pre-season premiership fancies.

Last week’s come from behind win at Eltham gave the Roosters consecutive victories for the first time this season, and with a 5-4 record from the opening nine rounds, the side is poised to be the big improver in the second half of the year.

Trailing by as much as six goals during the second quarter against the Panthers, West Preston produced arguably its best three quarters of the season to romp to a 28-point win.

Forwards Rocca, Damien Smith and Glenn Robertson combined for 10 goals, while Jake Williams returned to form with a best on ground display. 

The skipper has now played six games since suffering a broken collarbone in the pre-season and is sure to play an integral part in the club’s push towards September now that he has match fitness into his legs.

With Williams back to his best, the Roosters possess one of the competition’s best midfields, with recruits Kris Bardon and Andrew Luzza in great form alongside the dangerous Luke Cotchett.

Billy Morrison is likely to be used down back to fill the hole and curb the influence of the competition’s two leading goalkickers – Cloke and Moorcroft– and Paul Harrison.

The star utility was absent when the sides met back in Round 1 and the Bulls’ forward trio relished in his absence, combining for 11 goals as Bundoora began its premiership defence with a 62-point win at Yulong Reserve.

Since looking a clear favourite for the 2012 title with six consecutive wins to start the season, Bundoora has faltered over recent weeks and has fallen to two losses from its past three games.

With star midfielders David Mitchell and Micheal Farrelly both absent, the Bulls were smashed in the centre clearances during the fourth quarter of last week’s 12-point loss to Montmorency.

Earlier, the Bulls looked well on their way to victory when they led by as much as 20 points in the second term, but ultimately failed to kill off the Magpies when they had the chance.

With Montmorency’s rovers well on top, Bundoora’s defence was unable to cope with the influx of ball being pumped forward and the Magpies’ tall timber of Aisake O’hAilpin, Dean Limbach and Patrick Fitzgerald took full advantage of their limitless marking opportunities.

Despite the loss, the Bulls remain on top of the Division 1 table and Farrelly’s return for Saturday’s clash immediately makes them look a far more formidable force.

Trent Barbero has been stopping the opposition’s most dangerous smalls all season and last week did the job again on Kayne Pettifer. He and Michael Mitchell offer plenty of drive off half back and will keep West Preston’s forwards honest when the ball hits the ground.

In recent times Bundoora has been far too slick for the Roosters, twice dishing out severe drubbings to the 2010 premier over the past year.

It has been the Bulls’ attacking prowess which has caused the greatest grief for West Preston-Lakeside, with Bundoora averaging 131 points a game in its past three meetings with the Roosters.

Brayden Shaw has been best afield in the past two encounters between the sides, kicking seven goals in those clashes.

Paul Harrison has also taken a liking to the Roosters and has snared hauls of seven and five goals in two of his past three matches against West Preston-Lakeside.

Past four meetings:
West Preston-Lakeside 1, Bundoora 3

Round 1, 2012: Bundoora 23.12 (150) def West Preston-Lakeside 13.10 (88)
Round 14, 2011: Bundoora 17.12 (114) def West Preston-Lakeside 15.10 (100)
Round 1, 2011: West Preston-Lakeside 12.7 (79) def by Bundoora 19.16 (130)
Preliminary Final, 2010: West Preston-Lakeside 14.12 (96) def Bundoora 12.8 (80)

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