K rock Football

Tiger cubs impress Pilgrim

Bannockburn co-coach Ron Pilgrim speaks to his players during the win over the Belmont Lions. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Darren Phillips)

GIVING opportunities to talented youngsters has been the highlight of the first half of the season for Bannockburn co-coach Ron Pilgrim.

The Tigers sit second on the GDFL ladder with a 7-2 win-loss record, just a game behind premiership fancies Inverleigh, with the talented youngsters at Victoria Park having an impact.

“We’ve played 6-8 kids out of our junior program last year,” Pilgrim said. “Watching them improve week-by-week has been quite impressive; Juanito Ramos kicked five (goals) last week.

“We’re training them to play the way we want, and they’re adapting to that.”

Bannockburn begins a season-defining three weeks on Saturday against fellow top-three contender Bell Post Hill.

The Tigers then face East Geelong before starting their double-up matches against Inverleigh.

Pilgrim is well aware that run of games will determine whether Bannockburn starts its final campaign with a double chance.

“I think anyone in the top seven can give it a shake,” he said. “We saw that with Winch beating Bell Post Hill last week.

“If you don’t bring your A-grade game, you can slip away from the group pretty quick.

“And come the end of the year, you need to be in the top three to be a real chance.”

Bannockburn was less than 24 hours away from battling Bell Post Hill in a qualifying final when COVID-19 forced another halt to the GDFL season, from which the competition never returned.

The Panthers won the lone meeting between the two clubs last year by 47 points, keeping the Tigers to just four goals.

Pilgrim recalled Bell Post Hill getting on top of Bannockburn around the contest.

“They’ve always had the bigger bodies, and I know last year at Bannockburn they touched us up in that area,” he said.

“A lot of our games this year’s been based on that contested footy.

“Against Inverleigh, we proved we can match it with the best in that area, and I think that’s the key to the game against Bell Post Hill.”

Twitter: @tom_king79