NORTH GIPPSLAND FL
NEVER has the final round of the North Gippsland Football League home and away season held such significance.
The stage is set for an enthralling end to an action-packed 18 rounds of competition, with Saturday’s concluding suite of fixtures a pseudo-elimination final for six sides who will fight it out for four remaining places in the top five.
Five sides are locked on 40 points having won 10 matches, while Cowwarr is a mere two points behind the pack having drawn with Gormandale, who they meet again on Saturday.
Churchill v Heyfield
LONG time foes Churchill and Heyfield will meet on the eve of finals in a fitting showstopper to end the season.
The reigning premier is favoured to make a tilt at back-to-back titles and has accounted for top five sides Traralgon Tyers United, Churchill and Glengarry this season.
After a strong start to the year, the Cougars dropped away but have since regained their form winning four of five matches over the past month.
Contesting a number of engaging contests with the Kangaroos in past years, this one should be no different.
With both sides boasting dominant ruckmen, potent forward lines and mobile midfields, much will depend on which side holds its ground in defence.
After dropping the points by 17 points in round nine, Churchill will not provide Heyfield with the same luxury second time round.
Rosedale v Sale City
FOR bottom of the ladder trio Gormandale, Sale City and Boisdale Briagolong, the curtain will fall on an indifferent season this week.
The Dogs will face Rosedale in a final chance for a consolation win.
The Blues have been unconvincing in the second half of the season, having lost three on the run to Churchill, Woodside and Glengarry, and has an unsteady grasp on fifth position by 10 percentage points.
After an encouraging effort against Churchill last week, Sale City coach Joel Brayshaw knows it will take an exceptional team effort to knock over Rosedale, but can take confidence from vast improvement over the past five weeks.
The Dogs will be eager to finish off the season on a high having missed out on a fourth straight finals campaign, and could pull off a major upset.
Gormandale v Cowwarr
GORMANDALE will provide spirited competition when it hosts the Saints.
With their season aspirations trampled the Tigers will go into the contest full of confidence after splitting the points with Cowwarr last time around.
Sitting outside the five in seventh position, two points shy of the log jam on 40 points, Cowwarr has to claim the points on Saturday and rely on a number of other contests going its way.
Losses to Heyfield and Woodside halted the Saints’ attack on the top five and last year’s finalists may find themselves watching from the sidelines on a stage that they have performed well on in the past.
Glengarry v Boisdale Briagolong
GLENGARRY comes into the final round of competition on the back of a surprise one point victory over Woodside.
Confident of securing a top three finish and a berth in the qualifying final, the Magpies will host Boisdale Briagolong.
The Bombers failed to score a major in the final quarter of the contest against Rosedale, following a strong showing from a relatively inexperienced line up, and will need to improve the effectiveness in their forward 50 to boot a winning score.
Woodside v TTU
TTU’s attack from the backline, strong midfield setup and mutli-pronged forward line stand between Woodside and an important four points.
The Bombers aim was to finish in the top two by season end, but comes in to this week’s clash on the back of two straight losses against fellow finals aspirants.
The Bombers dropped the points by more than nine goals in their earlier encounter against the Wildcats, who also achieved success against Rosedale, Cowwarr and Glengarry this year.
With both sides desperate to make finals after watching from the sidelines year after year, the stage is set for one of the most enthralling contests the week out from finals.