IT HASN’T been the easiest start to the season for the Rochester Tigers, and things will need to turn around soon if they are to compete with the top sides in the Goulburn Valley Football League.
The Tigers have won just one of their first four games, their only victory coming against Shepparton United in round two.
The other three games — losses to Seymour, Kyabram and Euroa — have shown this might not be the same Rochester side that played off in last year’s GVL grand final.
Coach James Flaherty said Saturday’s home game against Benalla was an opportunity to beat a top-level team and turn a corner for the season.
‘‘They’re a top bracket side again this year and we definitely expect a tough contest,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve probably played three of the four top sides but there are a few inconsistencies we’re working to improve.’’
Rochester led at three-quarter-time in their round four match with Euroa, but couldn’t stay with their fast-finishing opponents.
It was without star forward Steven Stroobants who hurt his leg in the round three game with Kyabram, but he seemed to prove his fitness in the weekend’s interleague action, kicking three goals in the GVL’s seven-point loss to Ovens and Murray.
Nathan Marrone continued his bright run of form in the match to be named as the GVL’s best player on the ground.
‘‘There was definitely some upside in that game, especially for Nathan Marrone with his first interleague experience and he played really well,’’ Flaherty said.
‘‘Steven Stroobants got injured in the Kyabram game, with a six-day break to the Euroa he just couldn’t get up but he was very close.
‘‘He played interleague and he got through well so we expect he’ll be playing this weekend.’’
Benalla has picked up where it left off last season to sit third on the table at the interleague bye.
It won its first three games of the season, but slipped to defeat for the first time in round four against a strong Shepparton Bears side.
Key off-season pick-up Jarrod Bannister sticks out as the Saints’ most dangerous talent, having slotted 27 goals in his first four games of the season.
Flaherty said he expected the Saints’ midfield stars, including brothers James and Sam Martyn and Zachary Pallpratt, to be their key to victory.
The game is a rematch from last season’s preliminary final, which saw Rochester end Benalla’s season with a 35-point win.
Flaherty said the tough start to the year didn’t mean the side would be giving up on its goals of playing football deep into the finals, and the run would start this weekend with a win.
‘‘We’ve made it a lot harder for ourselves but we’re still aiming to turn our form around,’’ he said.
‘‘This week is a home game, our form hasn’t been bad we’ve just been inconsistent.
‘‘We have to be confident but they’re a good side and we will have to be on to win it.’’