ROUND 16 of the North Gippsland Football-Netball League has the potential to really shake up the top end of the ladder with all eyes and ears, courtesy of Gippsland FM’s radio coverage of the game, on the clash between Churchill and Traralgon Tyers United.

Churchill sit second on the ladder equal on points with league leaders Yallourn Yallourn North. TTU are a single win behind this duo, with fourth-placed Yarram just a win behind TTU.

A TTU win at Churchill tomorrow would give them a chance to finish on top, while a loss would thrust them in to a tooth-and-nail battle for third spot, and the double chance that comes with it, with Yarram.

For Churchill, a win over TTU would mean they play YYN the week after for top spot. A loss however would make them level with TTU, and most likely Yarram after this week, on points and out of the race for top spot. It would also potentially place a top three berth at season’s end in jeopardy.

Plenty to play for in what promises to be an epic encounter.

Churchill’s only loss so far this season was inflicted on them by TTU under lights back in Round 5, when an inaccurate Bomber line-up managed 9.15 (69) while restricting Churchill to their lowest score of the season; 8.6 (54). Ben Kearns managed five of his sides’ eight that night from limited supply and will be pivotal again to his side’s chances on Saturday.

At the other end of the ground TTU have really found their mojo when it comes to scoring and lay claim to a multi-pronged attack that will look to stretch the Cougar defence. With mid-sized forwards like Mitch Mustoe, Stuart Goddard and Jayden Cutts able to score heavily and the tall timber of Brad Kelleher and Trent Hourigan among the goals of late, it will take a huge defensive effort for Churchill to restrict the Bombers ‘out-put to a manageable one.

Some of the match-ups look mouth-watering, with the Cougar defence, headed by Jordan Fenech and skipper Angus Mitchell, looking to go head-to-head with the likes of Cutts and Mustoe.

Bailey Flanigan looks a likely candidate to go with Kelleher, with rookie of the year candidate Hayden Weir seemingly a good match-up for the far-running Hourigan.

When it comes to smaller forwards, Beau White has been threatening for the Bombers all year. He helped himself to bags of five and six in Rounds 13 and 14 before missing last week. Should he be right to come back in this week, he might find himself with Tom Sevenson for company thoughout the day.

The midfield battle also looks to be a ripper with Chris Williams, Ben Skinner, Jake Roe Duggan and Ryan Lowrie likely to be at the forefront of Bomber coach Jamie Aitken’s mind.

Not that he doesn’t have his own arsenal to run through the middle of the ground, with a pair of Jacobsens (Michael and Ryan) and Willatons (Liam and Hayden) taking all before them at times this season. Throw in an in-form Kade Duncan on a wing and it is a formidable midfield in its own right.

With so much on the line between two evenly matched sides, it is almost impossible to pick a winner, but coming off the bye and with home ground advantage, I am leaning to Churchill – maybe.

MORE than most it will be Yarram who are sweating on the outcome of this match-up, but their focus will be getting over Heyfield, who look to have found a bit of form last week.

The Kangaroos have played well in patches this season, and Yarram will do well to hope that last week was not the start of a late season surge for their opponent.

Yarram will hope to welcome back Kiefer Sutherland, who looks ideally suited to support Adam Parry and Liam Bentley on the three big Heyfield forwards, assuming Leigh Brown is again available to join Wayne Knight and James Beha in the Heyfield forward 50.

The Demons will also be keen to welcome back Jayden Shea to their midfield, so that he and Boadie Motton can split any defensive work put into them by Heyfield.

Putting the clamps on young gun Tyson Birss will be top of the list of objectives for Yarram coach Justin Staley, who himself played his first game after a short break last week.

With Josh Swift among the goals last week and the ever-reliable Corbin Sutherland sneaking forward and hitting the scoreboard, you’d think the Demons, with so much to play for, would be making sure their top three hopes remain alive after this match.

GLENGARRY was nothing short of disappointing last week, and will be keen to show they are in fact a much better side twhen they take on Sale City.

With the Bulldogs nursing a few injuries, this could finally be the week the Magpies cause the upset they have appeared capable of all season long.

Sale City needs to win all of their remaining games and hope Woodside slip up, perhaps in Round 18 against Churchill, to get back into the top five.

The chance of an upset will likely depend on the availability of Sale City’s Sam Davidson. Surely a lock for Team of the Year honours, Davidson has been a star in his first year in the NGFNL.

Glengarry may look to Michael Ryan to go with Davidson when he goes forward and rather than go defensive on him in the middle, could back their own star Jackson Hall to go head-to-head with him in the middle.

Assuming Jay Neagle is able to take to the field and the Magpies can manufacture a score of greater than 10 goals, they remain a rough chance at ending the tri-colours season.

IN the final two games, Woodside welcome Gormandale to town, while YYN makes the trip to Cowwarr.

Both appear to be terribly one-sided affairs, with the real interest in the scoreboard and any individual goal-kicking totals from the likes of Dean MacDonald, Keenan Hughes or the likely returning Mitchell Luck for the Jets.

With their only challenger for fifth spot Sale City having had a draw, percentage means nothing to Woodside which may be the one saving grace for Gormy.

The Tigers on the other hand will be hoping to restrict as much damage as possible, while hoping YYN can inflict up to five points of damage to Cowwarr given that is all that separates the two sides at the bottom of the ladder.

ROSEDALE has the bye.