WITH the EnergyAustralia Yallourn Cup final four virtually settled, the race begins for teams to fill the top two positions with three rounds left to play.
Two of those teams, Mirboo North and Moe, have a bye as a handicap.
Both will receive six points but no bonus points, which will be critical in determining the final position of teams.
Finishing inside the top two will give teams an advantage if the semi-finals are washed out, as they would go straight into the grand final starting on 16 March.
This week there is a real chance of Morwell, Moe and Latrobe getting outright wins over Yallourn North, Newborough Bulldogs and Trafalgar.
Outrights to Moe and Morwell last week gave them a buffer at the top of the ladder and a gap of 3.45 points to Mirboo North, with Latrobe 4.8 points further behind.
After a slow start to the season Moe has conquered all and looks likely to finish on top and shoot for their eighth straight Yallourn Cup.
This week Newborough Bulldogs faces the daunting task of staving off a likely outright against the Lions.
Chris Johnson is in devastating form with the ball.
He bowls at the stumps and makes batsmen play every ball.
Moe’s opening pair of Dale Walshe and Paul Cake has been consistent, allowing Andrew Philip and Rob Phoenix to capitalise on the opposition bowling attack.
Now Tom Long is back, the Lions have a proven opening bowler and batsman and his effort on return was impressive.
The Bulldogs have relied heavily on Aiden Vesty with the bat, and the Hibbs brothers, Matt and Steve, are capable of good scores, as is Chris Robinson.
Bowling wise the Bulldogs struggle with Rowan Kelly an honest toiler.
Morwell has a rougher task against Yallourn North who nearly toppled the highly fancied Mirboo North last round.
Lucas Fry and Brandon Bailey nearly decimated Mirboo North in their second innings and these two talented youngsters are capable of keeping the Morwell bats honest.
Josh Keyhoe and Glen Sheekey have been giving their team good starts but after Luke Nelson, Shane Galea and Jeremy Butler, their batting is fragile.
Morwell crushed the Bulldogs last week and gained valuable bonus points.
Former Mirboo North player Jesse Giardina has developed into a handy keeper batsman at club and representative level.
Latrobe took everything before them early in the season but has been disappointing in recent matches.
This week they take on Trafalgar at S&S Hire Oval on the hard deck and will be anxious to gain maximum points to challenge for second spot.
Kaushik Aphale is still the side’s class bat and Trafalgar will need to get rid of him early.
Daniel Siddle, after a great start to the season, has not fired recently and needs to get a decent score soon.
Anthony Bloomfield is doing well with bat and ball and is capable of tearing any attack wide apart.
For the Sharks to be a real premiership threat a few more players need to lift their game.
Trafalgar’s hopes of a decent score rest solely on the shoulders of James Blaser and Rhys Holdsworth.
Dylan Farrell played his first game for a few years and looks impressive although he only took one wicket.
The tall bowler has pace and bounce and could trouble the Latrobe bats.
Mirboo North has the bye.