MORWELL can extinguish Traralgon’s faint flicker of finals hope and keep its own minor premiership ambitions alive with victory at Traralgon Recreation Reserve on Sunday.
The Tigers trail Gippsland League ladder leader Sale by four points, but their superior percentage means they can still beat the Magpies to top spot in the final round, should that gap not widen this weekend.
That they can do so by beating their traditional rival Traralgon, and eliminate it from contention in the process, triples the Tigers’ motivation.
It is also cause to be wary.
“We had a good win last time, but we know past results count for little when it comes to rivalries,” Tigers coach Harmit Singh said.
“We respect Traralgon as a footy club, they’ve been a powerhouse for many years and it’s good to play good sides and see where you’re at going into finals.
“We’ll be looking for intensity and for everyone to contribute and play their roles and not have any lapses through games.”
Morwell survived a major scare against Leongatha last week, needing a nine-goal final term to secure the win.
The Tigers regained Michael J Duncan from injury against the Parrots and Ash Close, Boyd Bailey, Ryan Tatterson and Tarkyn Lockyer are in contention to return in the next two weeks.
Lockyer kicked four goals in a best-on-ground display against the Maroons in round eight and Traralgon coach Paul McCulloch expected the visitors to be close to full strength on Sunday.
“At this stage of the season they will be wanting to get as many games into their best players as they can,” McCulloch said.
“It’s a big game for us, the Morwell-Traralgon rivalry is obviously part of it, but there’s a tiny flicker of hope keeping us alive.
“Morwell is a very strong side, but we’ve learned a lot in the last six to eight weeks and it’s important we don’t go away from that.”
McCulloch said improving efficiency in front of goal and being accountable to prevent Morwell dictating play were key for his side, which must win its last two games and hope Bairnsdale slips up in order to make the top five.
Morwell has won the last three head-to-head contests.
Wonthaggi v Maffra
WONTHAGGI can seal a top-three finish with victory against Maffra on Saturday.
The Power holds a six-point lead over the fourth-placed Eagles with two rounds to play and goes into the game with just one defeat since their last meeting in round eight.
The Eagles have had a tough month and will be keen to win and build some momentum heading into finals, but have not won at Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve since 2010.
Bairnsdale v Drouin
THE result may not be in doubt, but Bairnsdale will be desperate to find form against winless Drouin at Bairnsdale Recreation Reserve.
The Redlegs were cruising towards finals, but have lost four games straight and still need to cement their spot in the top five.
With Traralgon facing Morwell on Sunday, that could happen this weekend, but putting a horror month behind them will be the priority for the home side.
Given the Hawks’ plucky showing against Moe last week, the Redlegs need to be switched on from the opening bounce.
Leongatha v Moe
AFTER taking the fight right up to Morwell last week, Leongatha will be out to maintain that form for the rest of the season.
The Parrots let the Tigers off the hook, but closing out the season with wins against the Lions and Traralgon would give coach Glenn Garner a strong platform for next year.
However, with their four wins coming against Warragul and Drouin, the Lions are seeking a scalp and after getting within seven points of the Parrots in round eight, they will not be lacking intent second time around.
Sale v Warragul
LADDER leader Sale will tune up for a final-round showdown with Morwell and finals with a visit from Warragul.
The Gulls made a good fist of their trip to Sale Recreation Reserve last season, but will have to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Magpies if they are to cause an upset and claim their third win of the season.