Avenel prepares for top-of-the-table clash against Eagles

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Bring it on: Kasey Duncan and his charges are excited for the challenge this weekend. Photo by Aydin Payne

Avenel playing coach Kasey Duncan said his group was excited for the challenge that lay ahead this weekend.

The Swans will head up to Central Park Reserve where Kyabram District League ladder-leader Shepparton East awaits.

Both outfits enter the clash without a blemish to their name from eight rounds of action and whoever walks away on top is sure to be most pundits’ premiership favourite.

The top-of-the-table clash is arguably the biggest contest this season to date and all eyes will be on the round nine encounter.

“It’s definitely a game we’ve been looking forward to for some time now,” Duncan said.

“They look like the benchmark team in the comp and you always want to test yourself against the best. This is the reason why you play, you want to play in these big games and I know all the boys are excited to give it our best crack.

“It’s going to be good fun.”

Shepparton East enters the clash off a 211-point drubbing of Rushworth in round eight.

Ryan Pfeiffer booted 10 majors, while onballer Adam Fichera was a standout.

The Eagles have been led superbly by playing coach Rob Osborne and have a truckload of Goulburn Valley League experience littered through the ranks.

Duncan highlighted the midfield battle as the key area in the contest and he backed in his onball brigade of Kyle Maynard, Tim Brook, Jack Myers and Braydon Avola.

“From all reports they are a well-drilled team. It’s a tough one because we’ve been relying on what other teams and other people are saying (about them),” Duncan said.

“They run hard and run fast. We’ll need to make sure that we stick with them and that we work hard.

“The midfield battle is going to shape up who wins the game, I reckon, because both sides have strong defensive ends and whoever can get their hands on the ball first around the clearances will go a long way.

“Big Tom McCluskey is performing well for them and the battle between him and Hayden (Heta) will be a close one. But most importantly, we need to make sure that we stick to our game plan and play for each other.”

Duncan expects his outfit will enter this weekend at full strength.

The Swans have welcomed back key cogs in recent matches, most noticeably Heta and multiple best-and-fairest winner Nick Goodwin, who returned from a leg injury sustained in round one.

“We’ll have quite a few boys back in this week, which is great,” Duncan said.

“It’s going to make selection very hard and whoever misses out will be stiff, but this is what you strive for at club level — you want competition for spots. It’s a testament to the club and it’s a credit to the reserves boys as well.”