Gippsland’s best in the spotlight

A TOP two clash under lights between Sale and Morwell will underscore the final round of the Gippsland League in a potential preview of the 2013 grand final.

The Magpies and the Tigers are the only two teams to have occupied top position on the ladder this season.

Fresh from an important win over Traralgon, Morwell will be eager to make amends for its round nine loss to Sale when the Magpies ended the Tigers’ eight-game winning streak in a 34-point victory that sent a message to the rest of the competition.

The reigning premier Sale has conceded one loss for the year, to Maffra, and, having won 30 of its past 31 matches, remains the form side heading into September.

Regardless of Saturday night’s result Sale will claim minor premier honours which earns the flag favourite a week’s rest in the opening round of finals.

“We think we are going okay but Sale is the benchmark team,” Morwell coach Harmit Singh said.

Morwell has second place wrapped up, but Singh is not looking toward finals yet.

“I guess we just worry about this week and then the first final and I guess over the next couple of weeks we just try to get better and play some good footy,” he said.

Morwell will leave it until the last minute to decide whether Tarkyn Lockyer will play.

“He is available with the Australian Football League playing Friday night and the VFL (Victorian Football League) on Sunday, so he is available if we wanted to play him but I’m not sure where his body is so we might give him another week off and get him back for that first final,” Singh said.

Traralgon v Leongatha

LAST week’s loss to Morwell means Traralgon’s top three ambitions hinge upon an unlikely scenario.

The only way the Maroons could grab a double chance is if it wins and both Maffra and Wonthaggi lose their respective clashes against Warragul and Drouin.

“More than likely now we are going to have to do it the hard way,” Traralgon coach Paul McCulloch said.

“We are going to be in an elimination final more than likely and we have a few things to get right in a short period of time.”

Traralgon’s campaign for third spot was left in shambles by another narrow loss, this time to Morwell.

“I still think there are areas of our game that have continually let us down during the year. There are some guys that just need to get their skills a bit sharper, it is as simple as that,” he said.

“Perhaps a few of them aren’t training as much as they need to be. This time of year you need to get there as much as you can to tidy up the skills.”

The Maroons will host Leongatha, a side which has found form in the second half of the year.

The Parrots have enjoyed plenty of success at Traralgon, having won in their past three visits.

Moe v Bairnsdale

WITH finals out of the question for both teams, Moe and Bairnsdale will be vying to finish off their respective seasons on a high.

The Lions will be looking to make amends for their disappointing final round loss to the Redlegs last year.

A win will see Bairnsdale finish the year with nine wins and nine losses, a record that, subject to the result of the Leongatha-Traralgon game, should earn it the title of the best performed team outside of the final five.

Wonthaggi v Drouin

COMING off a loss to Maffra last week, Wonthaggi will be eager to return to the winner’s board as it prepares to embark on its finals campaign.

The Power is guaranteed of a top five finish and could snatch the double chance that comes with third should Maffra and Traralgon both lose their final round matches.

This weekend Wonthaggi will host Drouin.

The Power and the Hawks have met seven times and the visiting team has returned home with the points on six of those occasions.

Warragul v Maffra

MAFFRA must beat Warragul to shore up third spot.

A win will see the Eagles play in next weekend’s qualifying final while a loss would see it face an elimination final.

Just 21 points separated the Eagles and the Gulls when they met back in round nine.