Boots and All: Tailem Bend are about to flex their muscles

Peter Dalwood previews round five of the 2021 River Murray Football League season.

This post was contributed by Peter Dalwood.

Every half-intelligent RMFL supporter is craving this contest.

We don’t care about the standard; all we want is a contest, as we are sick of 100-point blowouts.

I can’t remember when Tailem Bend last beat Imperials – it was some time this century, but the onset of early dementia is slowing me down.

Both teams are undefeated, with Tailem Bend’s average winning margin nearly 20 goals per game and Imperials’ winning margin nearly 13 goals per game.

Admittedly Tailem Bend have had the dream draw, but both teams’ key forwards – Connor Smelt and John the Boras – are averaging eight goals per game.

At this rate we could well see the magic 100-goal target reached in 2021.

That wise old sage, Imperials coach Scott McMahon, would be disappointed with last week’s finish.

Imperials didn’t finish off the second half all that well, as they had a chance to bury their opponents but took their foot off the pedal.

If McMahon is the on-field coach, maybe he needs to get the cattle prod out to his bench coaches – a big forward/ruckman, a Brownlow medallist from Swan Reach and a Star Force officer – because if they can’t get the job done, maybe it’s time for the next busload.

Imperials suffered a savage blow last week with the injury to Louis DiMichele, their key ruckman, and it’s going to hurt them in an area where they are vulnerable.

Incidentally, congratulation to Louis, one of the good guys in the RMFL, on the birth of his son Charlie Mark Dougal DeMichele – talk about having two bob each way with Ramblers.

The young player expected to get his chance may well be Josh Ritter.

He is a light-bodied player but he showed a bit last week.

He covers the ground well and gives his best shot at every contest, and every punter who supports Imperials would love to see him do well.

His likely opponent, Nick Westoff, is in career-best form and will be conscious of that old saying “never gives a sucker an even break”.

It will be the battle of the forwards.

Will Imperials signal their intent by giving Ryan Farnham first crack; or will they send their best defender, James Clarke, to him and try and shut him out of the contest?

At the other end, John the Boras loves to showboat a bit; Imperials became very Boras-conscious last week and got caught out a few times.

It’s the old bull, Imperials, versus the young bull, Tailem Bend.

Ben Hansen, the Eagles’ coach, is on a roll, his dad Dean is on a bigger roll and his mum Denise keeps telling everyone who will listen the young Ben is the perfect child.

Tailem Bend by 11 to 20 points.

Ramblers v Jervois

One gets the feeling that Jervois are just jogging along, waiting for everything to click.

They got the job done last week against Mannum, but not convincingly, and when you check their best it reads Michael Pope, Adam Diamond, Josh Woodall, Josh Scott and Zac Makins – it’s spot the local.

These blokes need a satnav to find Jervois.

Make no mistake, though, they are pretty handy and my guess is coach Tate Silverlock is just happy to grab the points in April.

Ramblers, however, are happy to grab the points any time, with many saying they are at their best now.

Shannon Callery is a bolt from the blue; my spy in the Rambler camp, former champion ruckman Bruce Kuchel, says he is showing promise but is still feeling his way against the stronger bodies.

The Reds have done remarkably well since midfielders Jacob Trevorow and Clint Walker have hardly made an appearance as yet.

Coach Alex Button has no choice but to get games into his young players, however Ramblers haven’t been able to kick over 10 goals this season and that won’t cut it against the big three.

Jervois have got all their grunt ahead of centre with Pope, Woodall and Scott, and in April they do enough to get the job done until the cavalry arrives in about August, when their fitness will kick in.

There is something about Jervois and their intense dislike of Ramblers; it dates back to 1933, when Jervois won the premiership and the RMFL took it off them and awarded it to Ramblers due to Jervois playing an ineligible player.

Both clubs have the 1933 premiership on their letterheads to this day and after 88 years that still rankles Jervois.

Unless Ramblers can find a forward wandering the street, maybe even an ineligible player just to kick a score would provide a morale booster for the club.

I would suggest you get there early to witness the “Big O”, Owen Love, take on his brother, big “Sugar” Ray Love: two of the finest exponents of the kicking game in the southern hemisphere, both playing in the reserves.

Miracles only happen at Easter for Ramblers.

Jervois by 11 to 20 points.

Meningie v Mannum

In the 1950s, economically, Australia rode on the sheep’s back when wool was a pound a pound.

Mannum ride on the back of Michael O’Malley; not only Mannum but the future of coach Wayne Knowles is in the hands of this player.

O’Malley won the Dean Bailey Award when he was a top-up player for the Adelaide Crows, that’s when top-up players were top-up players, not the cardboard cut-outs that masquerade as top-up players today.

O’Malley has been the best defender in SA country football for nearly a decade and one day he will look back and ask himself why he never made himself available for the SA Country team.

The dilemma that O’Malley and Knowles face is that he is a FIFO worker, so he is not available most weeks.

If I was Meningie president Scott Richter, himself a FIFO worker, I would ring his employer and make sure he is working this week because Meningie are a silly chance to break their duck.

The Bears showed a bit of ticker last week; Imperials kicked seven goals to three after half time but the Bears had some good moments.

They lack a bit up forward but they are playing young players, many who still shave with a hot flannel, and they just couldn’t finish off last week.

Mannum don’t like to travel too far from the river; they fear that dreaded disease fin rot, carried by European carp, according to my river watch expert Peter Smith, and it has cost the green machine some big games at Meningie.

It comes down to the availability of O’Malley; the senior players in Zac Bullard, Jake Keller, Dylan Ribbons and Danny Walker; and some promising young kids in Jack Woollard, Blake Tabe and Mitchell Heward to lift their work rate.

To quote the great Hawthorn coach John Kennedy, “just do something”.

Mannum by 71 to 80 points.

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