Ararat v Minyip-Murtoa

Ararat co-coach David Hosking

Ararat co-coach David Hosking

Ground: Alexandra Oval, Ararat, Saturday, 2.20pm.

Last time they met: Round 12, 2013. Minyip-Murtoa 11.17 (83) d Ararat 1.4 (10).

BIG improver Ararat will again face its biggest test this year when it hosts Minyip-Murtoa at Alexandra Oval, Ararat, on Saturday.

The Rats are sitting on top of the ladder with an unblemished record, while the Burras will be keen to bounce back after less than a kick separated them from victory against Horsham.

Rats co-coach David Hosking said his side's depth would be put to the test, with Will Bell and James Laidlaw set to miss with injury.

"They're a good side, so you'd love to go in against them full-strength but we've just got to deal with it," he said.

"Last year when they beat us, they beat us in the middle and had targets going forward.

"It's not rocket science - if we win it in the middle and send it forward it puts them under pressure."

The Rats boast an in-form forward line, with Beau Cosson, Liam Cavanagh, Jack Ganley and Tyler Cronin forming a threating combination.

But key to their chances will be Zach Louder winning the ruck duel against Burras tall Kieran Delahunty, giving the likes of Alan Batchelor, Aaron Searle and Dan Mendes first use of the ball.

Hosking said the Rats had moved on from last round's ground-breaking win against Horsham Saints.

"It was a breakthrough win for us the supporters were up and about, and this has been a footy club that hasn't had much to cheer about for a while," he said.

"We allowed ourselves a bit of a celebration and now it's straight back into it."

Burras coach Scott Arnold said his settled side was preparing for another big challenge.

"It's going to be massive they're on top of the ladder and undefeated so we'll have to bring our A game," he said.

"We have to start with a positive frame of mind, get our hands on the footy early and not let them easily get the ball inside 50."

Arnold said Kade Petering would play his 50th senior game, while experienced campaigners such as midfield duo John Delahunty and Adam Gerdtz, utility Justin Garth and forward Blake Grant would go into the match with strong form.

Grant has kicked nine goals - second at the club behind winger Clint Midgley with 11.

Arnold said Midgley could play forward or back on Saturday.

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