MAFFRA faces an imposing task to overcome ladder leader Leongatha in a rematch of last year’s Gippsland League football grand final.
But that was the situation facing the Eagles heading into last year’s finals, when they claimed back-to-back victories over the previously undefeated Parrots to claim the premiership.
The Eagles didn’t have any passengers when they won the grand final, and will need a similar effort to claim the four points on Saturday.
The Parrots are on top of the ladder, with just one loss this season. They are the only team to have scored more than 1000 total points over the first eight rounds, and have also conceded the fewest points.
The only blemish on the Parrots’ season was a 30-point loss to premiership contender Traralgon.
The Maroons also had the better of Maffra this season, withstanding a final term fightback to win by eight points.
The Eagles and Parrots will relish the opportunity to gain an edge over another top tier side.
The Parrots put on another powerful display against Warragul, particularly in the second half, winning by 57 points. Just like the previous week at Sale, the Parrots were challenged, but their class shone through when it mattered most.
Leongatha can’t afford to give the Eagles a sniff tomorrow, or it could find itself with a second loss.
The Eagles are in third place, two points behind Traralgon in second. They have the second best attack, which has the potential to test the Parrots back line, led by the in-form Aaron Hillberg and Josh Hopkins.
The Eagles’ line-up could be strengthened by the return of key players who have been out of action the past two games.
The match will feature the league’s top two goal kickers, Leongatha’s Chris Dunne (who’s kicked 30 goals), and Maffra’s Mitch Bennett (29).
The form of Dunne, Cade Maskell and Chris Verboon in attack for Leongatha mean Maffra defenders Jack Johnstone and James Huts are likely to be kept busy.
The midfield battle will also be enticing, with Maffra needing to keep Tom Marriott and Hayden Browne in check.
Maffra and Leongatha do battle at the Maffra Recreation Reserve for the 50th time tomorrow. For the record, the Eagles have won 32 of those contests, the Parrots 17.
Sale goes south
SALE will head to Wonthaggi for a must win game for both sides.
While they’ve lost their past six games, the ninth-placed Magpies have been in good positions in their four recent defeats, but have been unable to land the killer blow.
The Magpies need to begin winning to have any hope of being in final contention.
After losing its past two games, the Power is in eighth place, two wins ahead of the Magpies, but six points outside the top five. A loss tomorrow, with matches against Traralgon and Leongatha to come, could leave the Power’s finals hopes in tatters.
Wonthaggi was in a winning position against Moe last weekend, but their 16-point lead at the final change became a nine-point loss.
Byron Dryden and Jarrod Membrey in defence, and onballer Jack Blair have been in good form for the Power in recent weeks, but will need others to step-up.
AFTER drawing with Latrobe Valley rival Traralgon, Morwell will take on another, Moe, at home.
With the Tigers in fifth and the Lions fourth, tomorrow’s winner could break clear of the pack outside the top five.
The Lions have won four of their past five matches, losing to Maffra by just three points, while two wins preceded the Tigers’ draw last weekend.
WARRAGUL will welcome a Traralgon side searching for its first win in three weeks.
The Maroons’ brilliant start to the season — their best in 17 years — stumbled with a one-point loss and a draw.
At four wins from eight starts, the sixth-placed Gulls are struggling to find consistency. The closest match they’ve played was a 22-point victory over Morwell.
A return to the top five with a victory and a loss for Morwell could be enough incentive for the Gulls.
COMING off two wins, Bairnsdale can even its ledger at 5-5 with victory over bottom side Drouin at home.
The win-less Hawks can take some positives from their 98-point loss to Maffra, kicking six goals to eight in the second half, but have another big task ahead at Bairnsdale, where they’ve only won once from eight visits.