NORTH GIPPSLAND FL
AS the North Gippsland season nears the business end four sides are vying for the hotly contested fifth position.
Fifth-placed Yarram leads the pack by four points from neighbour Woodside, which has Glengarry and Cowwarr snapping at its heels with the trio locked on five wins apiece.
Woodside will be keen to lay a stake on the top five after falling agonisingly short of the mark in 2013, while you can write the reigning premier off at your own peril despite this season’s general poor form.
Sitting some 16 points behind front runners Churchill and Rosedale, the final six rounds are paramount for the mid-table clubs.
Cowwarr (8th) v Yarram (5th)
EIGHTH-placed Cowwarr could snatch fifth from Yarram with a win if other round 14 results going its way.
Four points separate the Saints and Demons, with fellow top five aspirants Woodside and Glengarry meeting teams at the upper end of the ladder on Saturday. However, the Saints will have to reverse a resounding 13-goal loss suffered in their last encounter with the Demons.
The Demons have won their past two matches on the road and the smaller confines of the Cowwarr Recreation Reserve will suit their game style.
A win for Yarram could cement a two-game break on the ladder log jam below.
Rosedale (3rd) v Glengarry (7th)
IT has been an indifferent month for Rosedale which struggled against Churchill after the bye before scrapping its way past Yarram on the road.
“We had a bit of a hiccup against Churchill and the way that we played, our kicking was poor and they played good footy,” coach Nick Leechino said.
“We do need and want to hit our straps, we started to find some form over the weekend which was a good start, the scoreboard didn’t reflect that in the first quarter when we didn’t convert but to kick nine in the second term was a great effort.”
Hit with injuries over the past month, Leechino has been pleased with the depth in the club’s ranks, covering the likes of key forward Andrew Flanagan.
“We have been hit by injuries, but what is pleasing is the depth that we have and have been able to call on to get us through,” he said.
“Over past weeks we have been able to continue to blood a number of top age thirds players which have fitted in well to the line-up.
“We should start to see the return of some of the guys, with Flanagan out for a few more, he could be right for the Heyfield game and Jon Cantwell to be back in coming weeks.”
Glengarry matches up well against the third-placed Blues and was the first side this season to claim their scalp.
Despite past results, the Magpies will need to be at their best to counteract a side working hard to secure the prized double chance come finals.
Sale City (4th) v Bois/Briag (11th)
AFTER dropping its past two matches Sale City will be out to rebound against Boisdale/Briagolong, which conceded a 28 point three-quarter-time lead in the dying minutes last week.
The Bombers tested Gormandale for three quarters and if they can carry that form in against City they may have the legs to run out the game and push the home side to the final siren.
Heyfield (1st) v TTU (10th)
HOLDING firm in the minor premiership title race, Heyfield will play host to Traralgon Tyers United.
It has been a lean year for last year’s top three finisher and semi finalist TTU, which has been derailed by injuries and an inability to finish off games.
Coach Matt Stolarczyk said while it was disappointing for the side, he still has a lot of belief.
“Our efforts have been really good in patches which isn’t reflected by our position on the ladder,” Stolarczyk said.
“We have been in every game this year apart from one against Heyfield, and have lost four to five games by less than 18 points.
“If you turn that around we could be sitting in fourth place.
“We have struggled to finish games, our last quarters have been letting us down badly.”
Leading the youngest list in the competition, Stolarczyk rated this week’s opponent Heyfield as the top side he had faced this year.
“By a long way they are the best side, I have no doubt that we will be competitive against them whether it be for a full four quarters, three or two quarters I don’t know. The key will be keeping the scoreboard respectable,” he said.
“We have four games to go following the bye next week, and if we can win three of these and carry some momentum into 2015 it would be a good result.”
Churchill (2nd) v Woodside (6th)
WITH plenty to play for Woodside will host Churchill in a match which will shape the Wildcats’ end of season hopes.
The Wildcats tackle two of last year’s finalists in as many weeks in the run to finals, and must win Saturday’s crucial clash against the Cougars to press for a top five finish.
Churchill continues to impress and last Saturday again demonstrated its devastating potential.
In their last encounter the two sides were locked in a fierce battle early before the Cougars powered away with a withering five goals in the second term to seal a comprehensive 30 point victory.
GORMANDALE has the bye.