COMING off an impressive performance against Traralgon, Sale will have to lift another level when it hosts Gippsland League football’s undefeated ladder leader Leongatha.
The Magpies’ upset victory over the reigning premier has kept their hopes of making the finals alive.
The Magpies are two wins outside the top five with five rounds remaining. With key players returning to the line-up, four of their five remaining games are winnable.
Facing Leongatha, however, presents a big set of challenges. The Parrots have a percentage of 323.29, more than double the next highest, Maffra.
Already guaranteed a top three position at season’s end, the Parrots have been 2016’s dominant team, with their defence conceding just 33.69 points on average per game.
The Parrots also have three of the league’s top four leading goal kickers: Chris Dunne, Aaron Hillberg and Zak Vernon. Dunne is coming off a 10-goal haul during the 205-point mauling of Bairnsdale.
In round five, Leongatha had a day out against Sale, recording its biggest ever win against the Magpies, 121 points. With confidence rising after winning two matches and narrowly losing another in recent weeks, the Magpies will be looking for a better showing tomorrow.
MAFFRA will return home to welcome bottom-placed Morwell.
The Eagles stumbled last weekend at Drouin, and will be looking for a return to the winners’ list before a challenging month before the finals.
After leading the Hawks by 14 points at the final change, the Eagles conceded seven goals and kicked just one in the fourth term to lose by 25 points.
Just because they’re taking on the side at the foot of the ladder tomorrow, the third-placed Eagles should take victory for granted.
The Tigers’ upset win over Warragul showed they will could a big say in who makes the finals.
The Tigers will have fond memories of their recent visits to Maffra, having won their past three matches at the Eagles’ nest, including a one-point thriller last year.
When the sides met at Morwell this year, the Eagles led by just seven points at the main break before booting nine goals to three in the second half to win by 50 points.
DROUIN will host Moe, with just two points separating them on the ladder.
If Warragul loses to Wonthaggi, the winner of this match will find themselves in the top five on Saturday night.
The Hawks will be buoyed by their victory over Maffra, while the Lions lost a nail-biter to Wonthaggi.
Both sides have potent forwards, meaning there will be pressure on their respective defences.
BAIRNSDALE will be looking for its first win at Traralgon since 1983.
If they break that trend, the Redlegs will also end an eight-game losing streak against the Maroons.
Coming off a thumping by Leongatha, their fifth straight loss, the Redlegs’ finals hopes are diminishing by the week.
The Maroons are coming off an upset loss at Sale and are will need a win to consolidate their place in the top three.
WONTHAGGI will travel to Warragul for a big match in the context of the finals make-up.
The Power sits in fourth place on the ladder, four points ahead of the Gulls in fifth.
Warragul slipped up against Morwell, increasing the importance of tomorrow’s match for it. In their run home, the Gulls will play the other four teams in the top five, along with a match at Sale.
Wonthaggi still has its sights on a top three berth.