With the Ovens and King Football league having a competiton wide bye across the long weekend, the Benalla All Blacks and Goorambat Football Club each had a welcomed opportunity to reset and look ahead to the back half the season before matches resume this Saturday.
Currently both teams are sitting outside the top six, eight rounds in, with the All Blacks (9th) sitting one rung and two games clear of the Bats in 10th place.
The All Blacks have won three matches this year, but have come very close in two other occasions, including their eight point loss to Bonnie Doon in round four and a one point loss to Greta before the recent bye.
The All Blacks have shown they can comfortably compete against other teams in the competition, with their biggest loss coming in Round 1 against Milawa.
Down forward it has been Jack Ellis (15 goals) who has proven most effective with Alistair Jacka, Chris O’Connor and Josh Hyland also contributing with 10 goals apiece.
Harry Ellis and Jacka have both been named best afield on two occasions each, while Lochie Morrison has featured in the best on a number of occasions and Nick Spencer had a strong start to the season with a month of consistent football
The All Blacks next month of football includes two home games against Whorouly (4th) and Milawa (1st) in Rounds 10 and 12, while they must travel to face Glenrown (7th) this weekend before another roadtrip to play North Wangaratta (12th) in Round 11.
Goorambat, on the other hand only have the one win so far this season, which came about in round four against North Wangaratta.
The 55 point win over the Hawks saw Dylan Beavis star down forward with five goals, and James Webb named best afield.
An eight point loss to Bonnie Doon in round two was one that got away for the Bats, but a number of large defeats in recent weeks, including the 68-point loss to the All Blacks means the Bats will need to pull something out of their bag of tricks if they are to compete against stronger teams in the back half of the season.
In terms of their personnel, Dylan Beavis and Tom Williams have proven to be the Bats most fruitful forwards, each scoring 12 goals this season, while nine players have lined up in all eight matches, including Ben Reaburn, who last month celebrated his 200th club game for the Bats, Ty Osborne, Beavis and Nathan Farley.
Liam Hernan has missed two matches this season, but has featured in the teams best on a number of occasions, while James Webb has been named best on ground in three of his seven appearances this year.
The Bats’ next month of matches look very tough for the local club, and includes home games against Milawa (1st) and Tarrawingee (5th) across the next fortnight, an away game against Glenrowan (7th) in Round 11, before returning home to play off against Greta (3rd) in Round 12.