RESULTS from the previous round tipped the contest for the coveted fifth position in North Gippsland football on its head.
The front runners have firmed their hold on a finals berth, but a fierce challenge rages between Yarram, last year’s premiers Churchill and Heyfield for fourth and fifth.
A four-point buffer currently sees Yarram and Churchill in the box seat over Heyfield, but with several defining clashes remaining in the final rounds, anything could happen.
Yarram rebounded strongly and moved back to fourth place on the premiership ladder, a percentage-boosting 106-point victory against Glengarry.
The Demons sit precariously at the tail end of the top five and will embark on a series of cutthroat matches to decide if they will cling to that spot.
Their battle begins against Churchill at home this weekend, followed by Cowwarr on the road and a big clash against Sale City to end the regular season.
Yarram has accounted for Rosedale and Traralgon Tyers United, two of the competition’s top three sides, but now has to face another premiership contender.
Tested by Gormandale in the previous round, Cougars coach Allan Chandler knows the stakes do not get any higher for the reigning premiers, with matches against Yarram and ladder leaders Rosedale to come.
TTU v Sale City
TTU enters the contest against second-placed Sale City on the back of a tough encounter with Cowwarr.
Far from dictating the game on their terms, the Bombers will this week host a side which trounced Woodside in a one-sided affair.
Sale City and TTU sit second and third respectively, with the Bombers two points behind the Dogs.
However, Bomber coach Jay Neagle would not be drawn into what was at stake, rather remaining focused on the game at hand.
“The double chance would be a bonus, but we will just take it one game at a time and focus on what we can control,” Neagle said.
“We just aim to keep on learning and improving within ourselves week in, week out.”
A goalless premiership term in the team’s round seven match proved telling in the Bombers’ 36-point loss.
On that day the Bombers fielded a depleted line-up against a side led by captain Matt Lutze and recruit of the year David Piasente.
Neagle anticipates there will be changes to the side that ran out onto the field in May, against one of the competition’s primary flag contenders.
“I think they had a couple of injuries as well, but we should have one or two different players from last time,” he said.
Rosedale v Glengarry
Ladder leaders Rosedale will be out to extend its six-game winning streak when it meets winless Glengarry.
Earlier this season the Blues were too slick for the Magpies, winning by 118 points.
The Magpies will be conscious that they can ill afford to allow the Blues to dictate the contest on their terms early otherwise they will find themselves’ in familiar territory from the first time around.
Woodside v Heyfield
DESPITE a 181-point trouncing at the hands of Sale City last weekend, Woodside coach Daniel Risol can draw some positives from his first season in charge of the Wildcats.
“We have managed to play nine different thirds players this year, seeing them develop and take the game on has been a positive,” Risol said.
Risol knows he will need the team’s 22 players to stand tall this week against Heyfield.
“Ryan Foat has had an awesome year, Ben Johnson has played great since coming back from injury and Blake Red has stood up in the backline under a lot of pressure,” he said.
“I am hoping for a better performance, with the aim to play better football for longer periods in quarters this week.”
With matches in the coming fortnight against Glengarry and finals contenders TTU, Saturday’s result of not only their game, but the cards of others need to fall the Kangaroos’ way if they are to remain in the hunt for premiership glory.
Gormandale v Cowwarr
Gallant in their efforts last Saturday, Gormandale will be disappointed by the one that got away.
The Tigers outscored reigning premiers Churchill in a strong second term; however, it was a costly six-goal deficit at the first change that would prove to be in the Cougar’s favour.
Demonstrating plenty of fight to claw their way back into the contest, the Tigers’ season has certainly been one of mixed fortunes.
Testing a number of the competition’s leading teams, Gormandale has a nucleus of young players hungry for the four points.
With coach Luke Henderson making it known he will step away from the role at season’s end, the Tigers will be eager to turn the tables on Cowwarr.
With both sides displaying impressive form in past weeks, despite not recording a win, the stage is set for an enthralling contest.