WHILE North Gippsland ladder leaders Rosedale appears to be tightening its grip on the premiership cup, there are many challengers vying for the glory.
Two-time reigning premiers Sale City has shown it is still the one to watch and may be the first side since Heyfield to claim three consecutive titles.
With the top three done and dusted, the final five are far from confirmed with four sides in a tug of war for the final two positions.
Traralgon Tyers United dropped more than the four points against Churchill at the weekend.
The Bombers slipped to seventh position on the ladder, which was welcomed by the Cowwarr faithful, after the Saints jumped to fifth.
With a tough run home for TTU and Churchill, round 16 will provide an opportunity for the sides to make last ditch attacks on claiming the highly sort after elimination final berth.
Sale City v Heyfield
Sale City coach Nick Hider was aware the stakes were high and he was hopeful his side could maintain their winning form at home when the Dogs meet Heyfield.
“We have only lost one game at home in the past three seasons, so we would like to maintain our winning form at home and make it a tough trip for opposition sides,” Hider said.
Hider was hopeful the side would have the goods to build their confidence ahead of finals.
“Last time Heyfield’s talls got hold of us and made it hard, but saying that they were good all over the park,” he said.
“We are a different side now; we are building on hopefully peaking at the right time of year and having drawn some tough matches this year heading into finals that this will help ensure that we are ready to go come the first week of finals.
“It’s pretty important that we get the win and secure the double chance to ensure that we finish in the top three, with there being little between fourth to seventh you need that second chance.”
Woodside v Gormandale
Although sitting at the tail end of the premiership ladder, the match between Woodside and Gormandale will be sure to offer plenty.
Feeling the wrath of the competition’s front runners, with the Wildcats and the Tigers convincingly beaten last Saturday by first and second respectively, the four points will be hotly contested when they vie for the Toms Cap Cup.
Coming off performances both coaches would rather forget, the men at the helm will need to refocus their players and have them primed for the contest.
Glengarry v Churchill
Churchill came away with the win against Glengarry in their earlier encounter by two goals.
The Cougars rallied in an impressive performance last week and will be confident that they have the goods to snare victory.
With plenty at stake, spectators will be treated to a finals-like contest which may be a prelude of elimination final action.
Traralgon Tyers United v Boisdale/Briagolong
Drawing the toughest run in the final rounds of the season of the three clubs remaining in the hunt for fifth position, TTU’s end of season aspirations may be out of its reach following Saturday’s loss.
A win this week against fellow Bombers Boisdale/Briagolong, would keep its faint chances alive.
TTU has shown continued development and improvement, but has often struggled to string together a full four quarters of football, with costly lapses seeing them drop matches to the competition’s front runners.
It has been a tough year for Boisdale/Briagolong, with the Bombers failing to fire in the second half of the season.
Outplayed in all aspects of the game last Saturday, Boisdale/Briagolong can take hope that TTU has struggled against their fellow Bombers in past seasons.
In the reserves TTU’s Nick Turnbull will don the Bomber strip for the 300th time.
Cowwarr v Rosedale
Cowwarr has won five of its last six with the Saints claiming a number of big scalps along the way.
But there will be no greater test for the Saints when they meet Rosedale.
The same could be said about the Saints’ percentage boosting efforts last Saturday, but last year’s preliminary finalists will be fully aware it will be far from one way traffic against the competition’s number one defensive unit.
Going into the contest as favourites, the pressure will be on the Blues to continue their season defying form, while for Cowwarr the prized scalp of a competition front runner will boost the confidence of the Saints.