Boots and All: Tailem Bend gets a sneaky work-out

Peter Dalwood previews round 18, 2021 in the River Murray Football League.

This post was contributed by Peter Dalwood, and is the author’s personal opinion.

Tailem Bend will look for a good performance against Imps this weekend as they head towards finals. Photo: Tailem Bend Football Club/Facebook.

Tailem Bend hasn’t played a game in 35 days, so come Saturday many of their players will be sporting name tags against Imperials.

They had a sneaky workout last week against another COVID-affected club, Pinnaroo, and the late mail suggests they got a run for their money.

With two rounds to play before finals they badly needed a gallop.

Remember Winx – they always gave her a good blow-out before the Cox Plate, but she was piloted by gun jockey Hughie Bowman, unlike Tailem Bend, piloted by Cory Smelt.

There is plenty of lead in the saddle bags of the big fella.

Tailem Bend is all exited because it’s the first time in years that they are serious contenders.

Let’s not begrudge them that, but they haven’t won anything as yet.

On paper they look pretty handy, with good players on every line, and Imperials look like the perfect tune-up for them.

They have some variety in attack with Connor Smelt, the focal point, not in the best of form but backed up by Ben Rossi, Jordan Bell and coach Ben Hansen, who could count himself amongst the RMFL’s finest with his delivery and the way he is leading this club.

This is Tailem Bend’s favourite venue, and twice they have had Imperials’ measure this season, but Imperials won’t be a pushover.

Still, the Blues are just about Dad’s Army these days.

Luke Harrowfield is still their best player and he is closer to 40 than 30; Scott McMahon is still very smart in defence but he could possibly pick up an opponent 15 years younger; Daniel Girdham is another veteran who has been a good servant but has lost a yard post-COVID.

Imperials rely on John the Boras up forward and it took them a good three quarters to shake off a depleted Mannum last week.

The Blues are slowly getting players back, so expect Lui and Sam DeMichele to be amongst the starters, but expect Nick Westoff, the big man from Tailem Bend, to give his midfielders first look at the football and set their forwards up for a winning score.

Tailem Bend by 21 to 30 points.

Mannum v Mypolonga

Mannum just ran out of players last week against Imperials.

This is the third time this season that this has occurred between these two clubs.

The Mannum Roos were down to one interchange player after quarter time and they were still in it at the last change but they got run over in the finish.

They ran out of gas and some of them should have been booked for loitering. 

Coach Wayne Knowles is coaching for his life.

Death, taxes and Michael O’Malley will be the subject of his pre-match address against the Mypolonga Tigers.

Death and taxes are inevitable but he needs O’Malley to save him from the axe.

He is the premier defender in the competition but last week he had to ruck, he had to play the midfield role and he drifted forward.

You would back him in at Tokyo in the 100-metre sprint as his closing speed sets him apart.

Mannum’s problem all season has been their lack of grunt going forward.

They just can’t kick enough, and without Jake Keller in the midfield and Dylan Ribbons up forward they look very skinny.

Both Keller and Ribbons miss more than they play but they are banged up and week-to-week propositions at best.

The Mypolonga Tigers are buoyed up after a nice win over the Meningie Bears but they are the specialists in bruise-free football.

They grow the finest peaches in Australia but you need soft hands to pick them and with two games to go the end is in sight for 2021.

Their minor grades are in contention and I’m certain the wise old sages that run the Mypolonga Football Club will be looking to salvage something from the season.

Matt Lindner has a good track record as a junior coach but that doesn’t translate into senior wins.

He just doesn’t just have the cattle and he will be content if they are competitive.

It’s at Mannum where Knowles is very nervous with Ben Quinn and Dave Schellen breathing down his neck, but they will get the money this week and a stay of execution will be granted.

Mannum by 21 to 30 points.

Meningie v Ramblers

It’s the last game of the season for Meningie, and their next job is to prepare the MCG for the second semi-final in about a month’s time.

It’s appropriate that the final game for Meningie is at home as there is a certain synergy between them and Ramblers – many of the Roosters have some connection with the Bears.

Matt Hartman is the number-one ruckman in the competition and, as a former best and fairest winner, maybe the Bears could form a guard of honour for him along with Clint Walker and a number of others.

This game is really between Meningie and Meningie West, AKA Ramblers, according to some punters.

Meningie coach Adam Moller has done a fair job under difficult circumstances and he has always said that in 2022 they will improve.

He is a coach with training wheels but he understands that Meningie have the capacity to bounce back from adversity.

Their time is now, and they should be looking at options with recruiting and basically survival.

They have got magnificent facilities, the best in the competition, the best oval in the league and the best mullet sandwiches in SA country football, but it amounts to nothing if you can’t survive.

Ramblers’ review committee is back front and centre after they were blown away against Jervois with a dismal five goals for the day.

They will play finals but get most of September off.

They save themselves for Imperials but you can’t play Imperials every week.

They are playing a number of kids and getting game time into them and they have a few veterans nearly at the end of their rope.

They have the speed in Jacob Trevorrow and Aaron Pratt, some good young players in Lual Kelei, Scott Callery and Jesse Paech and their veterans in Jarrad Weyland and Mathew Thompson are still performing, and they still have got Ivan Hein to come off the bench.

Ramblers by 71 to 80 points.

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