Tough finish for rampaging Stanhope

Wombat sandwich: Stanhope’s Josh Harris and Josh Canny make life difficult for Lancaster’s Noah Sewell during the weekend’s clash between the Kyabram District League rivals.
Looking for options: Lancaster defender Luke Davies was the Wombats’ best player in his team’s fourth loss of the season.

Stanhope’s opening two rounds of the season are now long forgotten after the team secured its seventh successive win of the season against Lancaster on Saturday.

In rounds one and two the team suffered two-point and 15-point defeats at the hands of Merrigum and Murchison-Toolamba. Since then they have remained unbeaten, culminating in a 44-point win against Lancaster on Saturday.

Stanhope now sits fourth on the ladder with seven rounds of the season remaining, but has a tough stretch of matches ahead.

After matches with 11th ranked Tallygaroopna and bottom team Longwood they have a run of four weeks when they play the three teams above them on the ladder.

Shepparton East in round 12 is followed by an appointment with Avenel and then Murchison-Toolamba in round 15.

In between they confront Merrigum, who they lost to earlier in the season.

Stanhope only plays one of the top three teams twice this season, Murchison-Toolmaba. Avenel sits unbeaten on top of the ladder with nine wins, while Shepp East and Murchison-Toolamba have lost one game apiece.

The weekend’s 14.8 (92) to 6.12 (48) win was built on the back of a midfield domination, led by Nathan O’Reilly and Ryan Semmel.

Lancaster’s five scoring shots in the opening term were all behinds, giving Stanhope a 14-point lead at the first change. The visiting team led by 20 points at half time and 30 points at three-quarter time, before a five-goal-to-three final term secured the win.

Key forward Tomas Rennie only kicked one goal in the victory, with Jye Patten leading the charge up front with three goals.

Lancaster is expecting its troops to be bolstered this weekend with the inclusion of two key recruits from Northcote Park.

The Wombats, unlike Stanhope, have a draw which will allow them to finish the season in a strong position.

Currently the team sits seventh on the ladder with a 5-4 win-loss record. On previous form the Wombats could win all seven of its remaining games.

The highest ranked team it meets in the run to the finals is fifth-ranked Violet Town.

Between rounds 10 and 16 it has appointments with Nagambie (10th), Dookie (eighth), Violet Town, Undera (10th), Girgarre (ninth, which it beat by 27 points in round one), Rushworth (which it beat by 176 points in round two) and Dookie again in the final home-and-away round.

In its loss to Stanhope running defender Luke Davies was outstanding, while fellow defender Phil Carroll also played his role. Coby O’Neill was the team’s best forward, kicking two goals along with Steven Phillips.