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NGFLWith clubs set to embark on the second half of the season, the mid-year report card is complimentary of a number of sides. While others who were touted as early season potential premiership contenders have found themselves off the mark.

League front runners Heyfield have taken all before them in the first nine games dropping just one match. Last year's grand finalists Rosedale may have a new look line-up, but that hasn't halted the Blues from stamping their supremacy boasting 6-3 a win loss ratio.

Surprising the competition Woodside have had a breakout season under coach Chris Pettitt and look destined take part in finals for only the second time since joining the league.

TTU and Churchill find themselves sitting in the top five, but questions still remain over their form. TTU have impressed in early matches but have failed to find their way against more fancied opponents casting doubt over their threat to the silverware.

Tapping on the door to the five, last year's finalists Cowwarr and Glengarry both find themselves a game behind fifth placed Churchill and will need to snatch a couple of big wins in the run to finals if they are to give themselves a chance to play beyond round 18. With both sides finding momentum over the past month, the Saints and Magpies are a massive threat to those who sit on the premiership ladder above them.

ROSEDALE and HEYFIELD will headline the match of the round with the Blues the only side to date to claim the scalp of the reigning premiers.

Outplayed from the opening bounce in their round one encounter, Heyfield are a different prospect with Blues coach Nick Leechino under no illusions as to the threat the Kangaroos pose to his second placed lineup.

"Heyfield have found their straps since we last met them in round one, and I would be confident in saying that it will be a different side that we come up against on Saturday," said Leechino.

Sitting two games behind the ladder leaders, the Blues boast a win loss ledger that many opposition coaches would be happy to take, however Leechino is still looking for further improvement fully aware that the coming month may define his side's end of season ambitions.

"There were a few games that we should have won, I was hoping that we would finish the first half of the season at seven and two.

"We have been making a regular three to four changes each week, how that affects the side is a bit hit and miss. With a new side coming together you expect that it would take five to six rounds to gel together, however it has taken us a bit longer due to not having the same side each week.

"The pressure is on to keep winning, the next month is going to be tough, each game we drop the tougher it will be to get to finals if the sides below us keep winning," said Leechino.

After an impressive month claiming the scalp of several top five sides, COWWARR found the going tough against a competitive Tiger outfit that drew level with the Saints at the final siren.

Saturday sees the Saints host CHURCHILL who faded away in patches against Heyfield.

Sitting side by side on the premiership ladder standings, the Cougars find themselves in a similar position to last season and would remember well the pain of missing out on a finals berth. With nine rounds to go the Cougars must make a solid move on the competition front runners and can ill afford to slip up this week against the Saints.

However Churchill coach Tim Darby will be fully aware of the prospect the Saints pose particularly on their home ground, and will know that his side's 40 point winning margin in round one is not likely to be repeated with the Saints to be a much tougher proposition.

Claiming the honours in their round one clash SALE CITY will take plenty of confidence into the clash against GLENGARRY.

Flying high after a successful month which has seen the Magpies significantly improve their win loss ledger with three wins on the run, Glengarry will aim to avenge their earlier loss to the Dogs when they travel to Stephenson Park.

Coach Ryan Potter is expecting continued improvement from the Magpies and knows that the sides return to the winner list over past weeks will continue to help boost his chargers confidence.

"We spoke ahead of the week off about trying to break into the top five and obviously Saturday's game against Boisdale was important in us achieving that," said Potter.

Turning around their slow start in their contest against Boisdale/Briagolong through rotating more and a few structural changes to the lineup after half time the Magpies are eager to level their win loss ledger at five a piece with victory against the Dogs.

"We have started to click as a side, sticking to our structures and continuing to manage the injuries we have had.

"The last few weeks has seen as have a few good wins against Rosedale and Woodside, in those matches we started to put more pressure on the opposition and move the ball better into our forwards.

Highlighting a number of areas for improvement which the side has been working hard to address, Potter is aware that a win against one of last year's finalists could well act as a barometer for his sides run towards the pointy end of the season.

It's been a month to forget for TTU coach Matt Stolarczyk and his chargers who have felt a mix of emotions after what had been a solid start to the season.

Kick starting their season on the front foot the Bombers promised plenty winning their opening six matches early before dropping away. Since then it has been a lean pickings for the Bombers who have failed to sing the club song suffering convincing losses to a number of the leagues front runners.

Dropping from second to fourth TTU will need to refocus for their clash against GORMANDALE with Tiger coach Luke Henderson confident that his side can mix it with the Bombers.

"We don't fear them on the return visit, in round one it was a close game all day with us going down by five goals.

"We have been satisfied with our ability, we went into the match against Cowwarr confident and well planned to beat them and certainly we had our chances.

"Defensively we have been a really good side this year, we have placed a lot of effort on our defensive pressure and if we are able to do that against TTU particularly in the midfield then we should be able to win," said Henderson.

With both sides hungry for the four points the stage is set for an enthralling contest, with the Bombers home ground advantage to have a major impact.

On Sunday the rampaging WOODSIDE Wildcats will look to tame BOISDALE/BRIAGOLONG who come into the match on the back of a solid performance in round nine.

Taking all before them in a comprehensive victory against TTU, the Wildcats are leading from the front as one of the competitions in form sides with their hard brand of football serving them well in the opening half of the fixture which saw them claim the prized scalps of fellow top five aspirants Rosedale, TTU and Churchill.

It's a daunting prospect for the baby Bombers who in past seasons have battled out a number of classic contests against the Wildcats, but this time around they will need to be at their best to counteract the home side that have dropped just two matches on their home turf for the season to date.

By Lauren Carey

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