Panthers look to bounce back

Devon Meadows face Somerville at Glover Reserve on Saturday. 356296 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Jonty Ralphsmith

Coming off its first loss of 2024, Mornington Peninsula Football Netball League Division 2 premiership fancies Devon Meadows face another strong test this week at home against Somerville.

Facing an Eagles side which sits 3-2, with its losses being by three points to Edi-Asp and 37 points against Pearcedale, it will be another tough test.

Mason De Wit, Dan Marshall and Luke Burton will lead an ominous on-ball brigade for Somerville, but Devon Meadows will be confident they have the midfield depth to account for the challenge.

That depth will keep the panthers fresher for longer against a side that itself has built a reputation for being hard-working and hard to outlast.

Hard nut Ty Kirkwood is expected to return from injury for Devon Meadows this week, while Patrick Ryder will return from a niggle.

Kirkwood will give them hardness in the contest and another midfield option, while Ryder makes them at least a three goal better side – his contested marking inside 50 was notably absent last Saturday.

There will be a close watch on Dean Kent all week after he suffered a corked thigh last week.

Regardless of whether he plays, the confidence that Kent has bred in the back six with his leadership will have coach Ryan Hendy confident that they will hold fast – particularly after Nathan Drew and Jayden Sullivan led a strong effort on the weekend.

The Panthers will be hoping for better ball movement than what they produced last week, while the forwards will expect to capitalise on more opportunities after both components of Devon’s off on the weekend.

And when the game is there to be won, Devon will hope others beyond Joel Hillis, the perennial saviour, stand up.

Last Saturday would have awakened Devon to its mortality – a bounce back is a must on Saturday.