Djarrak Football Club find itself in the unfamiliar position of fighting its way out of a form slump after the sides first loss two weeks ago followed by an escape act in the dying minutes against cellar dwellers Nhulunbuy Baywara Football Club by virtue of a 13.11 89 - 12.13 85 win last week. The Brown and Gold Army face a resurgent Nhulunbuy Saints Football Club in the 4pm clash on Saturday at Hindle Oval.
Senior Coach Hayden Rickard returns after a two week break and collects the coaching board from Steven Raymond whom controlled the team over the past fortnight. Rickard was full of praise for Raymond after a tough two weeks at the helm. He said "Scully (Raymond) has done a great job over the past two games. He's had to manage a loss and find solutions on the run against a highly motivated Baywara outfit. Its great to be tested as a side and the honesty of our review is always ramped up after a loss or a tough patch. We will find out plenty going forward about our group and how to get better".
The club has made the decision to focus on qualification over the past fortnight to be able to give as many club members a chance for taking part in finals as possible and this will ring true of this weeks selections again. There will however be a strong spine to the side and team management believe that this approach will pay dividends when the real business begins next month.
Cameron Stokes will headline the defensive zone and will be supported by the returning Dale Dhamarrandji and the no-nonsense approach of improving fullback Winston Yunupingu. Saints will be expected to carry height forward so Stokes will be crucial in terms of managing threats and ensuring the zone has appropriate match-ups.
Luke Bath, Raven Marika and Matty Campbell will be asked to win the ball at the source through the middle and Lee Mununggurr and Billy Wanambi will be rotated through the wing with Justin Talal who returns after a week stood down from the qualification policy. The three youngsters have shown huge growth this season and have benefitted from their exposure to the NTFL Competition through the Rirratjingu Football Program.
Robbie Wunaragun and Joshua Marika will be tasked with shouldering the load in the forward zone and will have a number of key rotation players to support them through Michael 'Longy' Maymuru and Richie Morton. Bernie Price will oversee this zone for the match and he will look to return to action against Nguykal FC in two weeks time as he progresses from his soft tissue injuries.
Nhulunbuy Saints FC have been the biggest movers over the past month and Rickard confirmed as much when he gave them the favourites tag. He said "Saints have really found their groove and in my opinion are the form team of the competition. If we get sucked into a game of stoppages and contests then we will play into their hands so we will look to improve our shape and tempo that served us well earlier in the year. He added "We had a positive honesty session following training last night. The playing group have identified where we can improve, and if we get growth in these areas we will be a very dangerous football side to deal with".