Judd to debut for Northern Blues
Football royalty is set to grace the VFL when Chris Judd lines up against Sandringham for the Northern Blues this Saturday at Visy Park, as Kris Neil reports.
The last time the dual-Brownlow medallist played a game at state level was in the WAFL before his AFL debut in 2002.
That day Judd dominated in a four goal, 32-disposal performance that immediately elevated him into the West Coast Eagles’ senior side and football folklore.
This weekend, Judd will be called upon to offer the Northern Blues young midfield an on-field presence to help snap a four game losing streak dating back to April 20th.
While the Blues have struggled to register a winning score of late – 220 points in their last four contests – there have been signs of improvement across the list, with over 41 players being used in the line-up this season.
The performances of Carlton-listed midfielders Jaryd Cachia and Nick Graham have been particularly promising for the Blues, who alongside Judd will be looking to control the stoppages on Saturday.
Coach Luke Webster has spoken candidly about Northern’s current stretch, placing significant emphasis on the Blues inability to string a consistent four quarters of football together.
The skid has Northern currently sitting two-points out of the eight in 13th position while Sandringham are sixth after going undefeated through their first five games of the season.
On the other hand, Sandringham’s form is relatively unknown leading into the contest, not having played an official match since their round seven loss to Werribee on the May 17.
The Zebra’s are set to welcome the inclusion of hardened on-baller David Armitage after suffering a knee-injury in round four of the AFL season against Adelaide.
Armitage will join a crop of proven midfielders including Shane Savage, Seb Ross and Adam Cockie (who represented the VFL in last weekends state game against the SANFL).
That on-ball quartet may well be sharking the opposition’s hit-outs in the match, with inexperienced ruck duo Lewis Pierce and Jason Holmes set to face AFL stalwart Cameron Wood.
Last year the Blues and the Zebras met twice, sharing the spoils with one win apiece on their respective home turf.
The last of those two meetings was in Round 17 last year, where the Blues prevailed by 18-points in muddy conditions at Visy Park.
If that result is anything to go by, the Blues may have the upper hand again this weekend, as forecasted rain and a ground struggling to recover from a beating in the Casey game looms to provide similar conditions.
Players to Watch
Chris Judd (Northern Blues): It has been 48-days since the champ has taken the field after suffering a hamstring strain in Carlton’s win against the Western Bulldogs on the 21st of April. Expect him to impart his influence on the game under monitored game time and conditions.
Adam Cockie (Sandringham Zebras): Cockie has started his 2014 campaign in blistering form, registering over 20 possessions in all but one of his opening seven games of the season. Cockie is the only VFL state-squad representative taking part in the match.
Brent Bransgrove (Northern Blues): Northern’s captain has had an interrupted season so far but has threatened to take a game over since his round six return. If the heavens open up expect that performance to happen this Saturday.
HEAD TO HEAD
Northern Blues 71 Sandringham Zebras 59 Draw 1
LAST TIME THEY MET
R17, 2013: Northern Blues 13. 16. (94) defeated Sandringham 11. 10. (76) at Visy Park