NORTHS Tigers race for a top two spot spot starts in earnest tomorrow as they tackle Goodna Eagles with a new five-eighth at the helm.
After Josh Roberts broke his leg last week coach Anthony O'Brien has turned to rising star Lewis Brown to fill the vital number six jersey in the clash at Keith Sternberg Oval.
Norths are in third spot on the ladder, just one point behind the Eagles. The Tigers will need to win both their remaining round games against Goodna and Fassifern to make the top two.
O'Brien said Brown had the credentials to do the job for him.
"Lewis has trained well with the boys all week and they are all confident of having him in there,” O'Brien said.
"I've got Chris Scanlan back this week and he is on Lewis' edge as well along with Tonga Mounga, so there is a lot of experience on his edge as well.
"Lewis has worked well in the first part of the year and he has been training with us all year. He'll be up to it.”
The loss of Roberts is a blow but O'Brien said the players were confident at training on Thursday night that they could get the job done.
Goodna is a massive challenge for Norths as they seek to break the drought against what has been a bogey team for them.
"We haven't beaten them this year or last year,” O'Brien said.
"We've come close a couple of times but they just seem to sneak away at the end.
"When you give Goodna the ball you have got to give it to them in the right positions on the field and back it up with some good defence.”
Goodna captain Ramon Filipine said his side still had plenty to work on against Norths.
"We have no worries scoring points,” Filipine said.
"It is just defence where we are switching off. We have just got to stay in the game.
"Norths always seem to work our middle around.
"Norths are methodical about what they do. They have got a game plan and they stick to it.
"They seem to complete their sets really well. Even though they have lost Roberts I know Steve West will step up. He has a really good kicking game.”
Goodna's star five-eighth Corey Kirk said the Eagles were "still building”.
"The group of boys we have here this year is probably the most individually talented we've had in a long time,” Kirk said.
"There hasn't been one performance where we have put it all together.
"Unfortunately we've had players dropping in and out for personal reasons and with injuries, like every other team.
"But we are at the point now where we have got the team pretty well balanced.”
If Goodna wins tomorrow, they will finish in the top two and play Fassifern in the major semi-final.
"Unfortunately we have played Fassifern three times off the back of the bye, and we've been short of a run,” Kirk said.
"But if we make the top two we will play them straight after the end of the round games.
"We are still very much of the belief that we can produce the goods on the day, even though we have gone down three times and a couple of times quite significantly.
"We feel like we are better placed now and hopefully we can produce the goods at the right time.”