AFTER 16 rounds of North Gippsland footy, we have our top five locked away.

Courtesy of Yarram’s win over Heyfield and Sale City going down at the hands of Glengarry, Woodside has secured fifth spot on the ladder.

So, with two weeks of home-and-away footy remaining prior to finals, the competing sides can start making their plans for the post- season, and those not participating can start planning their costumes for Mad Monday.

CHURCHILL v TTU

HAVING secured a top three spot after beating Churchill for the second time this year, Traralgon Tyers United will not only be participating in the post-season, but they will be planning on going deep into the finals.

They were far too good on Saturday for a Churchill side that was overcome by both a well-drilled Bomber outfit and a series of injuries.

The Bombers came out firing early and jumped the home side, slamming home the first two majors of the day on the way to a 17.9 (111) to 11.12 (78) victory.

Co-captains Jye Neilson and Mitch Mustoe had the travelling TTU fans in full voice within the first few minutes as they both kicked truly.

But just as the healthy crowd in attendance thought they were going to see a one-sided drubbing, Churchill ruckman and birthday boy Dillon Leys set about righting the ship for the Cougars.

He dominated the stoppages by either grabbing the ball from the ruck and kicking it forward himself, or by providing room service tap-work to the likes of Chris Williams, Jake Roe Duggan and Michael Diaz. With the quantity and quality of supply heading forward, it was no surprise the home side was able to capitalise.

Despite the best efforts of Zac Kilgower, who had the job on the league’s leading goal kicker Ben Kearns, and Jack Brown, who was running with Brendan Holt, Churchill piled on six straight goals to take a neat four-goal lead into the first break.

Holt himself managed three of those six goals.

Some early cracks were starting to show in the Cougar line-up however, with star on baller Chris Williams the victim of some Leys enthusiasm at a stoppage, spending upward of 20 minutes on the bench in the first term.

Williams’ injury was compounded when Ryan Lowrie, who was running with TTU’s prime on baller Michael Jacobsen, received the sniper’s bullet to the hamstring.

All of a sudden, the Cougar midfield was down two key rotations and TTU was starting to hit their straps.

When Hayden Willaton, who hit a purple patch of form in the second term, kicked back-to-back goals, the Bombers were not only back in the hunt, but had all the momentum.

A free kick to Stu Goddard, who kicked truly for the first of his two goals for the day, and a masterly mark and goal to Rohan Hore saw the Bombers head into the main break with a four-point lead on the back of a six goal to two quarter.

As if things weren’t bad enough for Churchill, Scott Whittle, who had held TTU’s leading goal kicker Brad Kelleher scoreless amid the six-goal Bomber blitz, limped to the bench just as the halftime hooter sounded. He would be unable to return to the park for the day.

His absence necessitated a halftime shuffle of Churchill defenders. This saw Hayden Wier and Bailey Flanigan now sharing the job of stopping Kelleher.

The knock-on effect of this was that Churchill skipper Angus Mitchell now had to play a more accountable role. His intercept marking, which was key in the Churchill run of six goals in the first term, would no longer be an avenue to attack.

Recognising the damage Hayden Willaton and Jacobsen had caused in the match-turning second term, Tom Sevenson and Riley Flanigan were now tasked with the stopping jobs on these two.

TTU themselves made some changes.

Having recognised the rucking dominance of Leys, they spent the next half throwing three ruckmen at him in an attempt to negate his influence.

Nielson, Ben Fleming and Hore all spent time running through the middle on the big fella trying to slow him down.

Crucially for Churchill, Chris Williams returned to the park, but it appeared to be in a slightly limited capacity as he spent much of the game forward with Kerns having an all-too-rare run in the middle.

When play got underway in the second half it was TTU who kicked the first goal.

They then followed up with two more majors to Jayden Cutts and Neilson, and the Bomber lead had escalated to four goals. Even at the final break things were looking ominous for Churchill.

Kade Duncan, he of the long sleeves and trusty left foot, was a standout in the third term for TTU, and while Leys continued to dominate the ruck ,the likes of Mustoe and Jacobsen were winning the midfield battle.

Mustoe in fact was not only wining the ball in the middle, he was hitting the scoreboard, with his two goals perhaps edging him over the line for the Crocker Medal (the medal is awarded annually when TTU and Churchill clash).

With the game still to be decided, the last quarter will not be remembered by those who were there for TTU’s victory, but for a terrible head clash that saw Churchill’s Brendan Holt transported to hospital.

Holt and TTU’s Nicholas Fox, a scrupulously fair ball player, competed for the footy in the Churchill forward 50.

The ensuing collision saw Holt rendered

unconscious. Play was stopped for nearly 30 minutes as the trainers from both clubs attended to the stricken star.

Thankfully Holt was discharged from hospital Saturday evening.

Play resumed after the lengthy delay and Churchill were soon down to no bench as Ben Skinner limped off, but the footy that followed was more or less academic.

The result was all but decided pre the injury break, but when Jake Albanese kicked two last quarter goals it added some icing to the Bomber cake.

TTU has now inflicted defeat on Churchill twice this year, the Cougars’ only losses, and with a likely week one finals clash looming between the two, the Bombers will take a great deal of confidence into their finals campaign..

For Churchill, it will be a case of getting their injured players back on the park as soon as possible and re-focusing on the weeks ahead.

GLENGARRY v SALE CITY

IN the other finals-shaping match of the round, Glengarry finally did what they have threatened to do all year and knocked off a finals candidate.

The Magpies’ best footy has seen them win quarters over both Churchill and Yarram by six goals, yet for reasons known only to themselves they have struggled to put a full game together.

Sadly for Sale City they did this on Saturday, winning 10.18 (78) to 7.5 (47).

Led by best-on-ground Jay Neagle, the Magpies were in front at every change, and extended their lead across each quarter in what must have been a most satisfying performance for the playing group, coaching staff and supporters.

In fact, if not for some inaccuracy in front of goal, the final winning margin of 31 points would’ve been much greater.

Ben Truin managed four for the winners with Travis Patten and Zac Bezzina were their other multiple goal scorers.

For the Bulldogs it was Adam Gray who played a lone hand in front of goal kicking five.

Without Sam Davidson and Bohdi Walker on the park, scoring always looked the worry for the tri-colours, and so it proved as they managed only seven majors for the day.

Both sides can take plenty out of this season, and with another pre-season under their belts it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility these sides could both be pushing for a finals berth come season 2023.

WOODSIDE v GORMANDALE

WOODSIDE did as expected over Gormandale, and ran away 26-goal winners 30.26 (206) to 7.3 (45).

Lee Stockdale was best-on-ground, booting seven goals, with Daniel Missen and Bailey Tatnell both close behind managing six each.

The Wildcats have now locked-in fifth spot, assuming they can knock off Cowwarr next week, and look set to play their third local derby of the year in week one of the finals with Yarram awaiting them.

Gormandale managed their highest score in a month, kicking seven goals. Jarryd Garlick and Chris Long with a pair apiece for the Tiges.

YARRAM v HEYFIELD

YARRAM managed to dodge a bullet in what could have been a danger game for them, taking care of an incredibly accurate Heyfield by a tick over five goals.

Heyfield kicked 13.2 (80) to keep themselves in the contest for most of the day, but Yarram ended on 17.12 (114).

As they have had a habit of doing over the years, the Kangaroos unveiled yet another young gun in Asher Eastham, who helped himself to five goals.

Another of the Kangaroos’ junior jets, Tyson Birss slotted three in a vote-catching effort for the son of a gun.

For Yarram, it was Corbin Sutherland leading the way with seven goals.

Post-game, Sutherland commented on the talent-laden Heyfield line-up, suggesting many of the kids have a big future in footy with several potentially destined for bigger and better things than North Gippy.

Sutherland acknowledged the Chisolm brothers, Tyler and Tanner, saying both were fantastic in his own side’s effort, while also noting that Jacob Davis must also have been very good given he was listed further up the best players list than Sutherland himself.

YYN v COWWARR

THE final game of the round saw Yallourn Yallourn North resounding winners over Cowwarr, 28.16 (184) to 4.4 (28).

The Jets, who now have a mortgage on top spot on the ladder, were again frugal, conceding just the four goals.

Their defence continues to amaze, and with a league-low 527 points against this season, they have conceded around 50 per cent less score than their nearest rival.

Of course, they have had little to worry about when it comes to offence.

Even without Mitch Luck, who has missed a lot of footy lately, the Jets are still piling on the goals.

Dean MacDonald and Keenan Hughes kicked a dozen between them at the weekend, but were outdone by Josh Keyhoe, who popped up to snag seven majors for the day in a best-on-ground effort.

ROSEDALE had the bye.