As the competition nears the midway mark of the season, North Gippsland football premiership front runner Heyfield is finding the opposition nipping at its heels.
Taking the competition by storm in the opening half of the fixture Traralgon Tyers United has made its mark on the top five and should break through for its first finals appearance since 2004.
A new-look Woodside has shaped its end of season fortunes early, and although inconsistent, Rosedale has been there about.
But with many rounds still to go, Churchill and Cowwarr know they need to make the most of their opportunities if they are to be considered serious contenders.
Outplayed from the onset last Saturday, Rosedale will aim to return to the winners list following a torrid fortnight which has seen it drop the points to Woodside and Glengarry.
But the competition is not going to get any easier with the Blues to host Boisdale/Briagolong which comes into the contest on the back of its surprise 15-point victory against the fourth-place Cougars.
Noting ahead of last round that his side had played “competitive patches of football before we have lapses”, coach Daniel Sandeman would have been impressed with the baby Bombers’ ability to string together a solid challenge against one of the league’s powerhouse clubs.
The Bombers ca not afford to get too far ahead of themselves, while Saturday’s victory was more than memorable and against the odds, it remains only the second for the season from a talented young outfit that can certainly shape the fortunes of those ranked above them on the premiership ladder standings.
Gormandale v Heyfield
Gormandale will aim to rebound from its disappointing showing against Sale City, which saw a competitive Tiger outfit fade away after quarter-time to manage only a measly goal in three quarters of football.
Fresh off the back of their opening two wins of the season the Tigers were completely outplayed and will need to rally and refocus if they are to become only the second side to defeat the ladder leaders.
While Heyfield coach Adrian Cox was keeping quiet on his side’s current form ahead of last week’s top of the table showdown, there is no questioning he would certainly know a lot more about his side’s character and potential following their come-from-behind one-point victory.
Perhaps somewhat lucky to come away with the four points, the reigning premiers demonstrated poise under pressure as they backed themselves against strong opposition to mount a late challenge.
Going into this week’s match against Gormandale with just the one loss to date the Kangaroos are short favourites to continue their winning ways.
Conceding a mere 454 points in the past seven rounds, the Kangaroos’ defence is the best in the competition and, for a relatively inexperienced Tiger forward structure, will pose their toughest assignment to date.
Expect the ladder leaders to comfortably register their seventh victory in a row.
Glengarry v Woodside
Glengarry welcomed the return of power forward Josh King last Saturday with the Magpies demolishing the opposition in one of their best showings for the season.
Sitting in seventh position, the Magpies are only two wins outside the five and this week’s clash against Woodside’s vital to ensure they remain in reach of the competition front runners.
The Magpies’ coaching panel will be under no illusions as to the challenge that awaits Glengarry with the resurgent Wildcats of 2013 showing that their early season wins were no flukes.
Coming into the match on the back of only their second loss, the Wildcats will provide spirited opposition and may provide a few headaches for Glengarry as it aims to secure a hold on the top three.
TTU v Cowwarr
TTU suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss against reigning premiers Heyfield last week.
The disappointment of having come so close will spur the Bombers on the training track as they refocus on this week’s big challenge against an improving Cowwarr.
With both sides boasting dominant ruckman, pacey midfields and damaging key forwards, the stage is set for an epic battle with the Saints keen to even up their win loss ledger at four-a-piece ahead of the week’s break.
The Saints come into the contest having made another emphatic statement at the weekend, playing irresistible football after quarter-time.
The win against Woodside cemented its attack on the top five.
Saturday’s match against the Bombers will test the strength and resolve of the Saints, and will act as a barometer to see how far Cowwarr have come since round four.
Churchill v Sale City
On Sunday fierce rivals Churchill and Sale City will do battle in front of what is expected to be a large crowd.
Enduring an indifferent month of May, the Cougars will be hungrier than ever to refocus and get their season back on track after winning two of their last four matches.
After starting the season strongly the Cougars will be aiming to carry some momentum before their annual heritage clash against longtime foe Heyfield.
In comparison Sale City comes into the match on the back of a comprehensive 50-point victory, but will be fully aware that they will need to be at their best to account for the Cougars on the rebound; a tough assignment for any side.