Coolamon aim up for Leeton-Whitton in bid to remain in fifth spot

KEY ROLE: Coolamon's Marshal Macauley in action against Griffith. The backman has been a model of consistency this year. Picture: Les Smith
KEY ROLE: Coolamon's Marshal Macauley in action against Griffith. The backman has been a model of consistency this year. Picture: Les Smith

There’s talk of controlling your own destiny.

There’s talk of Wagga Tigers and what they might do.

There’s talk again of not relying on other results. 

And sometimes, there’s too much talk of all that. 

When you strip it back, fifth-placed Coolamon host third-placed Leeton-Whitton on Sunday.

“We’ve probably used that line a bit in the last few weeks – about playing for our season,” Coolamon coach Matt Hard said.

“The boys are well and truly aware of what’s at stake and where we’re at and the work we’ve done to get to this position from a very slow start.”

That work stacks up pretty well in the second half of the season.

The Crows are the league’s highest scoring team (albeit having played one more game than the other finals contenders) but Coolamon compare very well across the last seven games:

  • Rounds 9-16:
  • Coolamon: 5 wins, 2 losses, 90 goals
  • Leeton-Whitton: 5 wins, 2 losses, 85 goals

Roy Kantilla (49 goals) and Joe Redfern (29 goals) are both in the league’s top 10 goalkickers this season while Liam Delahunty, Jack Munkara and Mitch McKelvie can also find a goal.

Of course, stats don’t always tell the full story. The Crows had 47 scoring shots against Narrandera last week, kicking 22 behinds. 

Hard rates Leeton-Whitton very highly and knows the Hoppers’ back six and midfield face a big task to limit the damage at the other end.

Full-back Will Graetz in the Hoppers' last game against Leeton-Whitton. Picture: The Irrigator

Full-back Will Graetz in the Hoppers' last game against Leeton-Whitton. Picture: The Irrigator

“It’s a huge challenge for our young backline, they’ve got a few potent forwards with (Jade) Hodge and (Daniel) Muir and their mids going through there… so there’s ample firepower,” Hard said. 

Some of that responsibility will fall to Marshal Macauley, who has been a model of consistency for Coolamon, named in their best in nine of 14 games. 

He’s likely to get the job on Muir who kicked eight last week, and has 48 for the season.

“He’s quick, for a big frame,” Macauley said. “He’s a good mark and a good kick and quick off the mark.”

But Macauley’s been rapt in his fellow defenders.

“Will Graetz has had a pretty big year,” he said. “Nick Curran’s really stepped up the last few weeks along with Josh Buchanan – he’s been an absolute revelation.”

Macauley is a spectator as Josh Buchanan gets some serious air against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Macauley is a spectator as Josh Buchanan gets some serious air against Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

Only 20 points separated the teams at Leeton earlier this year and Macauley said they paid the price for a 10-15 minute lapse.

With a big home crowd expected at Kindra Park for a massive game and same-day junior and senior footy, he’s hoping they can get the job done.

After all, it is a chance to keep fate out of their finals equation.

“We don’t want to be waiting for Tigers to get beaten in the last round, we want to do it off our own bat if we can,” Macauley said.