TRARALGON Tyers United experienced a premature taste of finals football in North Gippsland last week.
Coach Matt Stolarczyk saved the day with the final kick of the game to drag his side into their first finals campaign in nine years.
Set to embark on consecutive finals missions under coach Ryan Potter, Glengarry will need to claim the Bombers’ scalp in Saturday’s qualifying final to advance to the next stage of finals.
While the Magpies coach searches for his first finals victory, so too will the man in charge at TTU.
Stolarczyk knows that it could have been a different scenario for his side had they dropped the nail-biting contest to Woodside last week, which would have resulted in the Bombers falling from second to seventh.
“That’s the way that it worked out in the end; it has been a very close season,” he said.
“To secure a first final berth is great, obviously we haven’t been in finals for close to 10 years.
“You have 18 rounds to set yourself up for finals and we managed to do that.”
Unlike the Magpies, the Bombers line-up has little experience on the big stage, however Stolarczyk said that would not be a concern.
“We have a pretty good spread, Pat Sharp and myself have played finals footy together, if we get a couple of the experienced blokes to get their hands on the ball early and settle the play we will be fine,” he said.
TTU won both encounters this year, however finals football is a different caper and past results will count for little.
TTU broke the high flying Magpies’ winning streak when they last met, but Glengarry has won five of its past six matches since, beating fellow premiership aspirants Churchill and Rosedale in the late stages of the season.
Coming into Saturday’s final on the back of a clinical 115-point victory, the Magpies will be confident of their chances.
Key forward Josh King has kicked 54 goals for the season, eight of which were scored last Saturday and will be pivotal.
Combining with Mark Engley the pair has become a formidable two pronged attack who will need to be kept in close check by the Bombers defence.
Churchill v Rosedale
CHURCHILL and Rosedale will meet in the knock out elimination final, after the former charged into the five on the back of six wins from seven matches.
Combining miserly defence with high scoring, the Cougars have conquered all before them in the second half of the fixture with momentum at maximum velocity.
“We would have to be confident; our recent form stacks up okay having won six of our last seven,” coach Tim Darby said.
“We have beaten every side in the competition at some stage this season.”
The Cougars are the only side to have done so, but the season has not always gone to plan.
The side faced an “elimination final” every week for the past month.
“The first half of the season resulted in bad patches of play costing us, in the second half of the year we have played good consistent footy with limited down time,” Darby said.
“Early losses to Rosedale and TTU was us thinking that the job was done and it cost us, where in the match against Glengarry we didn’t have one good quarter.”
Describing this week’s opposition as a “momentum side”, Darby is aware that when Rosedale is up and about it is a formidable opponent.
“Rosedale is a momentum side and the stats back it up; they get their tails up and can boot six to seven goals in a quarter,” he said.
“When they get going they are hard to stop.
“The stats tell me that they rely heavily on one to two quarters to get the job done.”
Both clubs have hit their straps throughout the season, accounting for more fancied opponents, but Rosedale is the only side to have troubled the reigning premiers Heyfield twice.
However, the Blues have struggled to settle their line-up with work commitments and injuries preventing Nick Leechino from keeping the same side on the park.
“I have been disappointed that I haven’t been able to keep a full side on the park, however on the plus side we have great depth in the reserves and thirds that has been able to help us,” he said.
“We haven’t been able to maintain consistent performances as much as we would have wanted to. We have won games that we shouldn’t have, and lost games that we would have been fancied to have won.”
The Blues won the first meeting with the Cougars this year, but Churchill rebounded in the wet against a depleted Blues in round 14.
“We had some 10 changes going into the match last time against Churchill, and the damage was done early when they kicked away from us,” Leechino said.
“I am optimistic of our chances on Sunday, we will be missing Jon Cantwell who has been great in the ruck for us but have regained Brad Caldwell.
“We know that it is going to be a tough contest, and we know that we have four games of footy to win to take out the title, so there are no excuses.”