The second half of the 2022 Farrer League season will bounce on Saturday and the sporting gods have blessed Riverina footy fans with a table-topping clash between the East Wagga-Kooringal Hawks and Marrar Bombers.
The round 10 match will see the top-of-the-table Bombers visit the second-placed Hawks’ nest at Gumly Gumly Oval and with so much on the line; there will be no love lost in what should be one for the ages.
Incredibly, Marrar and East Wagga-Kooringal drew 7.10 (52) to 8.4 (52) back in round one.
Bomber’s assistant coach and two-time premiership-winning player Callum Gardner said both sides would be looking forward to the match.
“It is big for a few reasons,” Gardner said.
“First and foremost, it is a top-of-the-table clash and everyone is looking forward to it – and it is a great way to start the second half of the season.
“There’s a good rivalry between us and I think that rivalry has been built because we have both been pretty good for a few years.
“Plus, the last time we played, it was a draw and neither team came away thinking it was a good result.”
The 2022 edition of the Farrer League has been entertaining through the first nine rounds, with Barellan, Northern Jets, The Rock-Yerong Creek, North Wagga, CSU and Temora all putting pressure on Marrar and East Wagga-Kooringal.
“It is probably the most even competition I’ve ever been a part of since playing in the Farrer League,” Gardner said.
“You can’t turn up playing 80 or 90 per cent. You need to be 100 per cent ready to go because each team can give you a run for your money.”
While Saturday’s game is important, Gardiner didn’t believe the result would decide the season.
“Getting the four points this weekend will continue that good run, but I don’t think it will determine who will be the best team,” Gardner said.
“Things can happen, injuries can happen and yes the points will help but that doesn’t lock anything in.”
Hawks captain Brocke Argus was equally enthused by the prospect of Saturday’s clash, hinting that Marrar would take some beating.
“The boys will definitely be up and about for the game,” Argus said.
“There is no love lost between us and the games are always played hard but played in good spirit against Marrar. I know we will be looking forward to it.
“They are one of those teams that will always keep coming. If momentum is in your hands, they will try and wrestle it back until the last siren. It will be no different on Saturday.”
East Wagga-Kooringal has been dealt a horrid hand in the injury tally, but Argus explained it was all about the next man stepping up.
“We are sort of reaching the midseason with six to eight injuries. Coming into the Northern Jets last round, we were missing six of our starting first-grade side for this year and we had one bloke leave (Corey McCarthy). So really, we were missing seven blokes,” Argus said.
“Still, that’s footy, so it’s no excuse at all and we just have to deal with it. We have played with at least four of our first-grade players not available each week either to injury or COVID, but we have got through it.”
Argus backed the young players coming through, along with fringe first-graders stepping up from reserves.
“It’s good to have those young blokes coming through and getting that opportunity and if they take it with both hands, it means there is no guarantee your spot is there when you come back,” Argus said.
“A major part of having a good side is having that competition for spots. That’s the sort of thing that will make you a better team when it comes to finals.”
When asked what it would take to beat Marrar on Saturday, Argus believes it will come down to the individual battles on the paddock.
“Whoever is able and ready to play; they need to put their stamp on the game, whether it is kicking three or four goals or beating their opponent,” Argus said.
“We just need blokes beating opponents. It’s a cliché, but with these young blokes coming in, if they can beat their opponents and we all do the same, we will win games.”
The mouth-watering match between the Bombers and Hawks headlines a tantalising round 10 of Farrer League action, which will see North Wagga Saints hosting Northern Jets at McPherson Oval, The Rock-Yerong Creek take on Barellan at Victoria Park and Coleambally searching for their first win of the season when hosting CSU at Coleambally Sportsground.
Farrer League currently stands as follows: Marrar 26, East Wagga-Kooringal 26, The Rock-Yerong Creek 18, Barellan 18, Northern Jets 16, North Wagga 14, CSU 12, Temora 12 and Coleambally 2.