MAFFRA can move a win clear of Leongatha on top of the Gippsland League football ladder with victory on Saturday at Warragul.
Leongatha’s shock loss to Drouin during the first weekend of the split round has given the Eagles the chance to take a step towards claiming the minor premiership.
But those hopes of finishing on top will be in trouble if they lose, with tough matches against Traralgon and Moe to come.
The Eagles posted back-to-back big wins before their week off. Two weeks ago, the Eagles overcame Bairnsdale challenge to win by 109 points.
Warragul slipped down to sixth place on the ladder after losing to Leongatha by 59 points, when it was let down by a poor first half.
But victory is far from assured for Maffra. While the Eagles have won eight of their past 10 matches against the Gulls, they’ve only won three of the past six meetings at Warragul.
The Gulls are currently level on points with Traralgon in fifth place (with a vastly inferior percentage), with Moe four points ahead.
TRARALGON will host Moe, with both having plenty to play for.
The Lions are a win ahead of the Maroons in fourth spot, and can shore up their position with victory on Saturday.
Maroons coach Mark Collison said the split round had rejuvenated the playing group for the crucial encounter.
Collison said the side was “starting to get better”, and cited its win over Drouin a fortnight ago as a promising sign.
“We had a really good win and I thought it was a really good effort from us,” he said.
The Maroons will also welcome back three key players from injury — Haydn Hector, Mitch Mustoe and Adam Jaensch.
“It’s going to be hard this week — the side is completely different and they’re a really good side and are sitting fourth for a reason,” Collison said.
“They’re very capable of beating anyone, so we’ll pay them the respect they deserve and put a bit of time into them, but the main focus is producing our best footy because it’s clearly good.”
- with Kate Withers