Highlanders are having an indifferent season so far. They have yet to pick up a single placing and some people may be feeling that they won’t be able to defend their National A grade crown. So is it all really going wrong or is it all a cunning plan?
The problem for the Highlanders so far this year is their team has changed quite a lot whereas the Kent, Arden and Welsh Dragons teams have stayed fairly constant. These changes would seem to be on purpose though and not by accident. Not once yet this season have the Highlanders fielded their strongest team, instead preferring often to field two weakened A grade teams. Invariably, they split their strongest team and put some A graders in with some of their younger players in order to give them a taste of the A grade.
With this in mind, which teams will they field at Nationals? Their likely top team would be the two Robertson boys, Shelley King, Martin Brookes, Bryan Davidge and Tom Simkin (unless Andrew Schaefer suddenly comes out to play) meaning that they would probably also run out another side featuring, amongst others, Edward Beckerlegge, James Davidson and Anna Robertson. This team may also get into the A grade but it is perhaps more likely that they will compete in the B grade, where it would have a very good chance of victory.
If they did indeed field the A grade team named above it would be tough for Arden to overcome them, especially seeing Arden’s best team narrowly lost to a weakened Highlanders side at Liscombe (though some might say they were very unlucky to do so). The weakest point for the Highlanders would probably be their number threes as they wouldn’t have either Rick or Andrew who played in that position for them last year.
The Arden attack is brilliant at goal scoring, perhaps even better than the Highlanders own, and without Rick out the back of the line up Arden might see a lot more of the ball. If they do and the ball ends up in the sticks of Greg Sargeant or Jason Burbidge the Highlanders can expect trouble as their strength and skill can create goals from anywhere.
It really is perhaps too close to call at the moment but one thing is for sure, it’s going to be good!