Rivergum endured a sluggish start to the North Metro Cricket Association Jika Shield.

Facing long-time rival Rosebank in a grand final rematch, Riverbank knew it was going to be a tough first-up match.

Rosebank was at full strength and came out on top again.

Winning the toss and electing to bat, Rosebank made 7-171 from its overs.

Jarrod Bannister, Daniel Young and Kyl Ewart took three wickets each for the Kookas.

The Kookas struggled with the bat and were restricted to 8-125.

New Kookas coach Matt Perri said they expected a tough match.

“We are traditionally slow starters and we had a couple of players out as well,” he said.

“They were pretty much at full strength and they were ready to go.

“We were sluggish and will be better for the run. We had a lot of guys playing football.”

Rivergum

Rivergum’s Daniel Young. Picture Shawn Smits.

PHOTO GALLERY: Rivergum vs Rosebank 

The Kookas, who have played in the last eight grand finals, winning four of them, again are shaping up to be a strong side.

But Perri said a few changes in personnel will take some getting used to.

From last season’s grand final team former captain-coach Gary Bell, veteran Alex Jesensek and Scott Morley haven’t returned.

Perri said their exit meant the side had lost a lot of experience.

At the same time it gives the opportunity for others to step up and play a bigger role.

“There’s the chance to keep giving guys chances,” Perri said. “Kasey May is a top grade premiership player, he has been playing in the twos the last couple of years. He bowled really well [at the weekend].

“Daniel Young has been in the side more as a bowler, he will get more opportunity with the bat.

“Jack Carlyon is a young player who has come into the side.

“We’ve got a bit of depth to work with.”

Pleasing for the Kookas, all but one player who was in Saturday’s round one team played juniors at the club.

The Kookas two recruits are past players at the club – Sean Neary, who has won three premierships at the Kookas, returns, and Jarrod Leggett, who has played many years at Victorian Premier Cricket, including being captain-coach at Melbourne University and Greenvale Kangaroos, is expected to play.

“I’m not sure how many he will play,” Perri said of Leggett.

“He’s a junior at the club and we’re happy to get him out on the park for some games.

“Sean won three flags with us. He’s had an ankle reco and we’re not going to rush him back.”

Both were missing from Saturday’s loss, as was Corey Atlis, who is also recovering from surgery. Perri said he was expecting Atlis to return this week.

After the run they’ve had in recent years, it’s no surprise the Kookas are looking to be among the contenders again.

“We still want to be pushing for the premiership,” Perri said.