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Northern Blues looking to bounce back

Jack Silvagni will be one of the main targets up forward for the Northern Blues. (Photo: AFL Photos)
Jack Silvagni will be one of the main targets up forward for the Northern Blues. (Photo: AFL Photos)

The Northern Blues will be hoping to return to the winners’ list against their traditional rivals Coburg on Sunday afternoon.

The 152nd instalment of the Battle of Bell, Coburg have triumphed on the last two occasions by a combined 11 points, with the Blues last coming away with the bragging rights in 2013.

There will be extra meaning for Northern on Sunday afternoon, with club favourite son Brent Bransgrove playing his 100th and final game.

Bransgrove announced on Wednesday night that this weekend’s milestone game would be his last, making him the first player to reach a century of games under the Northern Blues moniker.

Northern will be looking to respond from a largely disappointing fortnight, which has seen them lose their last two games by over 100 points against the competition’s two best teams, Casey and Williamstown.

The Blues will welcome back known quantities Nick Graham, captain Tom Wilson and Cameron Wood, while Ciaran Sheehan will also return for his first VFL game in almost two years.

Mark Whiley will also play his first game in a month after recovering from a calf strain suffered in Northern’s last win, against Geelong in Round 2.

Former Northern livewire Ahmed Saad is injured and won’t feature for Coburg, but key talks Lech Featherstone and Peter McEvoy as well as the consistent Daniel Younan have both been named for the Lions.

After five winless games to open the season, Coburg got off the mark last weekend with a win against top-four hopefuls Essendon.

Following a comprehensive beating in the midfield battle last week, the trio of inclusions in Graham, Wilson and Wood will play a big role in dictating if the Blues will return to the winner’s list.

Kristian Jaksch and Jack Silvagni will provide the key targets up forward, while Matt Korcheck will provide the ruck relief for Wood.

The Northern Knights’ Matt Perry will debut as 23rd man after solid showings in the TAC Cup, while Kye Declase could also be in line for his debut.

Successful returns for David Cuningham, Jesse Glass-McCasker and Silvagni (who have again all been named) provided shining lights for the Blues on an otherwise dark day at Burbank Oval.


Ciaran Sheehan returned to football through the Northern Blues Development side last week. (Photo: Northern Blues)

After a 143-point demolition at the hands of the Seagulls last week, Josh Fraser has challenged his side to respond on what will be a special day for the football club.

The last three weeks have seen the Blues concede consecutive triple-digit scores against, making them last in the competition for scores against.

Having struggled since Kieran McGuinness sustained his serious neck injury, the Blues will have their work cut out for them against a Lions outfit who find themselves desperately unlucky to have a 1-5 record (four losses by 10 points or less).

The Northern Blues’ final home match at Preston City Oval gets underway from 2pm tomorrow afternoon, as the club farewells one of their champions.

MATCH DETAILS

VFL Round 7
Northern Blues vs. Coburg Lions
Preston City Oval
2pm, Sunday May 22
Adults $10, Concession $5, Kids under 15 free
Northern Blues members - free


The Northern Blues' Round 7 team. (Graphic by the Northern Blues Football Club)

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Brent Bransgrove: The week has been all about Brent Bransgrove, who will play his final match this Sunday against the old rival. A stalwart of the football club for a decade, Bransgrove captained the side for the last four seasons before handing over the mantle to Tom Wilson this year. A hard-at-it midfielder with unrivalled loyalty and determination, Northern will be hoping to send the Life Member out in style as he puts on the jumper for the 100th and final time.

Dillon Viojo-Rainbow: After a brilliant pre-season and opening fortnight for Northern, Viojo-Rainbow has seen his output drop in recent weeks in line with the club’s misfortunes on the field. The 20-year-old will play a vital role alongside Jason Tutt in giving the Blues a lift in the uncontested possession count, which they have comprehensively lost in recent weeks.

Jesse Glass-McCasker: A key cog of the Northern Blues backline to open the season, Glass-McCasker missed a fortnight, returning for last week’s match against the Seagulls. Coming up against a pair of key forwards who have enjoyed facing Northern in recent seasons, the youngster will - alongside Jayden Foster and potentially Kristian Jaksch - need to stand up if the Blues are to get on the winner’s list after a barren month.