NEVER has the final round of the North Gippsland football home-and-away season held such significance.
The stage is set for an enthralling end to an action packed season, with six sides fighting it out for the four remaining places in the top five.
Five sides are locked on 40 points, while Cowwarr is in seventh position a mere two points behind, having drawn its encounter against Gormandale, who the Saints will meet on Saturday.
CHURCHILL and Heyfield will meet in a fitting blockbuster to conclude the season.
The reigning premier is favoured by many to win back-to-back titles, and rightly so when you look at the Kangaroos’ list of scalps throughout the season, including top five sides TTU, Churchill and Glengarry.
After a strong start to the season, the Cougars dropped away but have since regained their form, winning four of their past five matches, with the side quickly drawing back into contention with the lead quartet.
With both sides boasting dominant ruckman, potent forward lines and pacey midfields, the competition in the middle of the ground will be an enticing one and may decide the overall result.
Dropping the points by 17 goals in round nine, Churchill won’t provide Heyfield with the same luxury second time round.
With their finals aspirations on the line it would be hard to look past the Cougars going close to levelling the ledger at one a-piece.
Blues host Bulldogs
ROSEDALE will host Sale City, who will look to finish its season on a high after missing a fourth consecutive finals appearance.
Narrowly holding on to fifth position by 10 percentage points, the Blues have been less than convincing during the second half of the season, having lost in consecutive weeks to Churchill, Woodside and Glengarry, sides they are contending with to remain in the top five.
While it is far from panic stations, the Blues would be aware of the need to continue to elevate their game ahead of the footy.
Sale City took it up to Churchill for three quarters last week and coach Joel Brayshaw knows it will take an exceptional team effort from his charges to knock over Rosedale. He can take confidence in the fact that the Bulldogs have shown vast improvement over the past five weeks.
Tigers to test
GORMANDALE will be expected to provide spirited competition when it hosts Cowwarr.
With their season aspirations done and dusted, the Tigers will go into the contest full of confidence knowing they had Cowwarr’s measure in their earlier meeting when the two sides drew level at the final siren.
Sitting two points outside the top five, Cowwarr will not only have to claim victory on Saturday, but rely on other contests going their way. Not an ideal situation to find yourself in.
With losses to Heyfield and Woodside halting their attack on the top five, last year’s finalists may find themselves watching the rest of the season from the sidelines.
CONFIDENT of securing a top three finish and a berth in the qualifying final, Glengarry will host Boisdale-Briagolong.
The Magpies come into the final round on the back of a narrow and somewhat surprising one-point victory.
The Bombers’ fleet-footed midfield and defence are set to be stretched for the second time in as many weeks.
Failing to score a major in the final quarter against Rosedale after what had been a strong showing from a relatively inexperienced line-up, the Bombers will need to improve their effectiveness in attack if they are to snatch an unlikely victory against a quality opponent.
All on the line
WITH Traralgon-Tyers United and Woodside desperate to make finals having watched from the sidelines year after year, the stage is set for an enthralling contest.
TTU’s attack from its back line, strong midfield set-up and multi-prong forward line are all aspects that need to be controlled for Woodside to claim the scalp of the competitions number two ranked side.
Making it well known that the Bombers’ aim was to finish in the top two, coach Matt Stolarczyk will be feeling nervous going into this week’s clash on the back of two straight losses against fellow finals aspirants.
It won’t just be the inconsistent form and the inaccuracy in front of goal that proved costly last Saturday that will be worrying Stolarczyk, it will be the knowledge that the Bombers dropped the points by more than nine goals in their earlier encounter against the Wildcats.
Playing for their finals place over the last month, the Wildcats couldn’t afford to drop the points and have regained their impressive early season form to claim the scalps of Rosedale, Cowwarr and Glengarry.
Occupying a top five position for most of the season, the Bombers will be disappointed with their showing in recent big matches which may shape their finals prospects.