MATCH PREVIEW | Essendon Royals head to Larissa Reserve for tough North Sunshine Eagles test
The Essendon Royals are back on the road this week when the senior men travel to Larissa Reserve to take on the formidable North Sunshine Eagles.
The Eagles have been one of the standout teams in the Men's State League 1 North-West competition this year and sit inside the top three.
With the top two teams, Preston Lions and Sydenham Park, playing each other this weekend, the Eagles will be eyeing a priceless opportunity to close the gap on the top two.
But first, they must beat an improving Royals side, which has overcome a slow start to the season to established themselves as one of the competitions in-form teams.
The Royals have lost just one of their last five, winning three and drawing the other game.
Senior coach Vaughan Coveny said the Royals need to take confidence from their recent performances, but says the challenge posed by the Eagles will be different kettle of fish to recent wins against FC Clifton Hill and Yarraville Glory FC.
"I believe the difference between the top-three teams in the league and the rest is that they can be clinical and ruthless when they need to be and can close out games when it's a tight affair," he said.
"North Sunshine is never an easy place for any team to go to and get a result.
"They have been a formidable team over the years but we have built up a lot of confidence over the last couple of weeks and look forward to the challenge."
The Royals were glad to take back-to-back wins into the Queens Birthday break and while Coveny says the team was put through their paces over the week off with some intense training sessions, the break between games has given some players a chance to get back to full fitness.
"The week off allowed us to freshen up a few players who were carrying niggles. This week has been a good week of training with all players available and raring to go," he said.
"The general feeling has been positive and we are looking forward to this Saturday."
The Royals are out to make a bit of history this weekend having never beaten the Eagles in league competition.
A win would potentially see the Royals move into fifth on the table, pending other results.
The match kicks off at 3pm at Larissa Reserve.
In the earlier kick off, the fourth placed Royals will he hoping to leapfrog North Sunshine and move into third with a win.
The two teams look very well matched judging by the league table, where just two points separate the third-placed Eagles from the fourth-placed Royals.
The Eagles lost last time out to Caroline Springs George Cross and drew the week prior with Yarraville, leaving them winless from their last two games.
The Royals on the other hand are fresh off a 4-1 win over Banyule City, and have won three of their last four games.
The Reserves kick off at 12.45 pm.