The stakes have never been higher in Saturday’s North Gippsland football clash between rivals seventh-placed Churchill and fifth-placed Traralgon Tyers United.
TTU coach Daniel Hawking said while the Bombers hold onto fourth position on percentage, it could be short lived if they do not walk away with the points against Churchill, which sits seventh on the ladder.
“It’s a massive match for us; a must win as a finals spot is on the line,” Hawking said.
“We could have sewn it up on the weekend but undisciplined play in the final term cost us the match and our chances of locking in a finals berth.”
Last Saturday the Bombers conceded a 23-point fourth quarter lead, a loss result the club could not afford.
“We need to approach each game from now to the end of the season as if it is our last,” he said.
“It is a tough run but if we look back at these three matches from earlier in the year and the results having won three in a row then we can take confidence that we can do it again.
“We will be bolstered by having a full side back, which will be the first time since round three against Rosedale.”
A premiership player with this week’s opponent Churchill, Hawking may quickly go from hero to villain with victory against his former side all but dashing the Cougars’ hopes of playing finals football.
“We match up well against Churchill, we know that they are in the same situation as us playing for their season and I have no doubt that (Tim Darby) will have something up his sleeve for the big match,” he said.
For the Cougars their chances of playing finals are slowly slipping away.
Churchill has dropped four games by less than 10 points and it will need a lot to go its way if it wants to snatch fifth spot.
Heyfield v Glengarry
HEYFIELD will need to be on its toes as it looks to complete the double against last year’s grand finalists Glengarry.
Finding a way to win in close contests over the past fortnight, coach Adrian Cox concedes it has been less than ideal handing opposition sides such a head start.
“I haven’t been happy with the starts that we have given the opposition; to be that much behind is not ideal, you don’t want to be chasing your tail,” Cox said.
“We have identified where we have gone wrong and are addressing our shortcomings, at the end of the day we have found a way to win and good sides can do that.”
With 12 points separating third from fourth the Kangaroos appear to have locked in their hold on third place, but with the home straight to finals ahead Heyfield can ill afford to drop too many more on the way to September action.
“We have spoken about finals, we know that a win on the weekend will almost guarantee us a top three finish, but we can’t rest now, we need to ensure that we have a good lead up to finals and win every game,” he said.
“We don’t want to give Glengarry a chance of securing a top three finish.
“We match up well against Glengarry, they are a tough side to compete against and one that has only gotten better throughout the season; we can’t afford to give them an inch or they will take a mile.”
Gormandale v Sale City
This week Gormandale hosts Sale City which is fresh off the back of one of its most memorable victories in recent seasons.
With the two-time reigning premiers’ backs up against the wall, the Dogs stood tall in the absence of many missing premiership stars to claim bragging rights over this year’s flag favourites, Rosedale.
It is hard to see the Tigers causing City too many headaches, with the second-placed Dogs to record their 12th win of the season.
Rosedale v Woodside
Caught flat footed last week in the top of the table clash, Rosedale will be expected to come out hard against bottom-placed Woodside.
It is a daunting prospect for the Wildcats, who felt the wrath of the Blues’ forward line in their earlier encounter.
The ladder leaders recorded a 105-point victory on that day, with Brad Caldwell, Chris King and Dale Fleming the catalysts in the forward line.
Boisdale/Briagolong v Cowwarr
BOISDALE/Briagolong will host Cowwarr, whose finals chances are in the balance with a win this week crucial in ensuring they remain in touch with the top five.
The Saints are likely to fight it out against TTU and Churchill in the final four weeks for a position in the five.
Between now and then they have two tough encounters against top of the table Rosedale and Heyfield, and depending on how the coin falls in other matches they may have to wait until the final siren in round 18 for the fate of the club’s finals ambitions.
In their present form the sixth-placed Saints should ensure their season remains on track with victory over Boisdale/Briagolong.