THREE weeks remain in the North Gippsland home and away season, and the door remains ajar for one of three sides to claim the final place in the five.
Over the past three rounds Yarram, Woodside and Cowwarr have all at one stage or another held fifth position.
Cowwarr claimed bragging rights over Yarram, who had occupied a place in the five for the majority of the season, and held strong for a week or so before conceding to Woodside who rolled Yarram in a gritty performance.
However the Wildcats’ reign lasted a week before rival Yarram dethroned Woodside to again sneak into the leading quintet.
All three sides have important matches this week to stake their claim on a coveted finals berth.
Woodside v Rosedale
REELING from a missed chance, Woodside will need to refocus when it hosts Rosedale in a pseudo elimination final bout.
Rueing lost opportunities, the Wildcats will retreat to their home ground confident of a result against the third-placed Blues, a side they matched in an entertaining round seven slog.
On that occasion 12 majors were scored in the opening term, Woodside’s Justin Staley finished the contest with a match high 10 majors and Rosedale’s Brad Scott registered six of his side’s 20 goals to set up a Blues win.
Woodside’s Ryan Foat will do a bulk of the ruck work against the Blues rotating ruck duo.
Chris Hughes or Jed Hickey will likely play on Staley, while in the midfield Dale Fleming and the Diamond brothers, Rowan and Adam, will be pitted against Adrian Fazioli, Josh Griffin and Clint Staley.
Saturday’s clash will be the first of an unenviable run of matches for Woodside with fellow five aspirant Cowwarr and ladder leader Heyfield to come in the closing rounds.
Of the trio of sides contesting fifth position Woodside has the toughest run home behind Cowwarr.
Gormandale v TTU
AFTER winning two of their past five matches, including a second victory over Glengarry this year, the Gormandale Tigers have their tails up.
Returning to the senior lineup in the second half of the fixture, Paul Richards has proven key for the Tigers in past rounds with the veteran forward on song in front of goal.
Add goal sneak Daniel Trease to the mix and the Tigers’ improving youngsters, including Luke Francis, coach Luke Henderson will be confident his side can make it two on the run when they meet Traralgon Tyers United.
TTU has been on song the past fortnight and while out of contention has been helping shape the final five.
Having taken the points by a barnstorming nine goals in the sides’ earlier encounter, Bomber coach Matt Stolarczyk will also be confident.
Expect a dogged contest with the Bombers to make it three on the run.
Bois/Briag v Yarram
BOISDALE/Briagolong will return home for its penultimate home game of the season.
Knocked out of the five a fortnight ago, Yarram is again in the box seat to snatch the last finals spot and bragging rights from neighbour Woodside, which slid down the premiership ladder rungs last Saturday.
But the Demons will need to take it one week at a time; first they must get past the Bombers who will be out to restore some lost pride following a dismal performance against Churchill.
In their previous encounter, Yarram claimed the honours 17.13 (115) to 6.10 (46).
Heyfield v Cowwarr
RETURNING from the week’s break refreshed and primed for a top of the table clash against Churchill in round 19, Heyfield must first focus on Cowwarr ahead of the big one.
Convincingly outplayed by Rosedale last Saturday the Saints will be out to cause the upset of the season and hand the Kangaroos their first defeat, a mountain only Churchill and Rosedale have come close to climbing.
It is an unenviable assignment, and one of the toughest road trips on the fixture, but with their finals ambitions hinging on the next three weeks, the Saints can ill afford to put their faith in other results falling their way.
Sale City v Glengarry
AFTER suffering two straight defeats at the hands of fellow top five ranked opponents, Sale City will be focused on a return to the winners’ list against Glengarry.
Announcing that he will step aside from the coaching role next season, premiership coach and club best and fairest winner Ryan Potter will be aiming to finish off his tenure with a win or two before bowing out of season 2014.
Like TTU, the Magpies’ season has not gone to plan with the defence of the title all but over early in the season.
The Dogs have dropped just two matches at home this year and will be confident of making it two from two against the reigning champs.
Churchill has the bye.