Test of finals credentials

MAFFRA could take a major step towards claiming the double chance during the Gippsland League football finals with victory at home against Wonthaggi on Saturday.

The two teams and Traralgon are battling for third place on the ladder and elimination final against Morwell. Traralgon is currently in third place on percentage.

A Maffra win and a Maroons loss to Morwell would see the Eagles return to third spot, a position they could keep with Eagles, Power and Maroons favoured to win their round 18 matches.

The Eagles relinquished third spot last weekend after a 28-point loss at Sale on Sunday.

The Eagles began poorly but fought back in the second term, heading into half-time trailing by four points. They stayed with the Magpies in the third term, but fell away in the fourth.

The way the Eagles took the fight up to the ladder leaders, even without Kel Porter, should give coach Hayden Burgiel hope his side could do some damage during the finals.

Wonthaggi secured its finals place with a fighting win over Bairnsdale last week, its attention will focus on a top three finish.

The Power won’t be daunted by the challenge of Maffra. In round eight, the Power defeated the Eagles at home by 38 points.

While the Eagles will be focused on taking care of the Power, full forward Darren Sheen needs 13 more goals to reach 100 for the season.

Sale favoured

SALE should make sure of the minor premiership when it travels to Drouin on Saturday.

The Magpies are two wins and 23 percentage points ahead of Morwell with two rounds to play.

Mathematically, the Magpies can still concede top spot to the Tigers, who they play in round 18.

With key players returning, the Magpies are lifting at the right time of the year. Last weekend, they overcame Maffra, the only side to have defeated the Magpies this year.

Winning games against premiership contenders such as the one last Sunday will boost the Magpies’ confidence as they seek to win back-to-back flags.

Drouin is on the other side of the scale, recording just one victory this season.

The Hawks are a different prospect from the sides that made the 2010 and 2011 grand finals. With a young side, they are in a rebuilding phase.

Last weekend, the Hawks suffered their biggest loss to Traralgon, losing by 129 points.

Saturday’s match will be Eric Bott’s first game in charge of the Hawks.

Looking to rebound

WITH its finals aspirations finally put to rest, Leongatha will be looking to bounce back at home against Moe.

An 89-point loss at Morwell ended any faint hopes the Parrots had of making the finals, ending a four-game winning streak.

The Parrots were disappointing in the second half, conceding 15 goals to six.

Moe also put in a disappointing effort last weekend, going down to Warragul home by 101 points.

Expect the Parrots to continue their run of wins against the Lions, which is currently six.

Clash under lights

BAIRNSDALE will host Warragul on Saturday night.

With the final five settled, the Redlegs, Gulls and Leongatha should be striving to finish in sixth place. Saturday night’s contest will have a major bearing on that battle.

The Redlegs tried their best to remain in the finals race last weekend, going down to Wonthaggi by 16 points after only trailing by one point at three-quarter-time.

The Redlegs will be looking to finish the season with a nine-nine record, their best since returning to the league three years ago.

A win behind the Redlegs, Warragul thumped Moe by 101 points last weekend.

Rivalry renewed

ROUND 18 will conclude with local rivals Morwell and Traralgon clashing on Sunday.

Morwell is settled in second place and will use this match to fine tune for the finals against a quality opponent, but Traralgon needs to win to maintain its edge in the battle for third place against Wonthaggi and Maffra.

The Tigers and Maroons are coming off big victories.

The Maroons have only had one win against the other sides in the top five this season.