BEWARE the wounded warrior – that’s Colac coach Matt Gibson’s message as the Tigers prepare to take on Bell Park at Hamlyn Park.
The Dragons, reigning premiers, ended round one of the Geelong Football League season in the spotlight after copping a 10-goal belting from flag contender St Josephs.
The margin raised eyebrows among GFL insiders after Bell Park won a pre-season Betstar Cup featuring the best country and metropolitan clubs.
But Gibson said the Dragons had the ability to bounce back from one of their worst losses since emerging as a leading flag contender.
The Tigers enter the clash on the back of a win on Good Friday against Geelong West-St Peters, creating a surprise formline for a match between the two sides.
“Joeys have picked up a couple of recruits, it was highlighting that. I suppose the evenness of the competition as well,” Gibson said of the result.
“Bell Park won the best of the best, they’ve still got a nucleus of a good side there, so whether it was one of those days, blowing the cobwebs out, who knows,” he said.
“You’d be foolish to think they’ve dropped off. Sheringham and Couch and these guys have been drafted but they’ve got some good players there.
“Mitch Cuthill is back from VFL commitments, and Ben Johnson he’s another one that played. They’ve ticked off on good players coming back.”
Colac captain Dan Jeffreys will return to the midfield from suspension and will replace Andrew Kelly, who took a one-week ban for striking last round.
Teammate Russell Whiteford, interstate, will also miss while Zac Hammond has returned to South Colac.
Gibson said underdog Colac would have to match the Dragons’ slick ball movement and also improve on its delivery inside 50.
Key forwards Dan Casey and Jake Carmody played peripheral roles against GWSP, feeding on limited supply, with the bulk of the goals coming from midfielders.
“Our forward line didn’t function as well as what I would expect. We’ve got areas to work on there,” Gibson said.
“Whether it was our delivery in there or what it was, we certainly didn’t get the ball into the right spots,” he said.