NORTH GIPPSLAND finals begin tomorrow.

The first week of finals will see Churchill and Traralgon Tyers United battle it out for the right to play Yallourn Yallourn North in the Second Semi-Final, while local rivals Yarram and Woodside meet in a do-or-die Elimination Final on Sunday.

Although Sale City will not be playing on the field in this year’s series, the Bulldogs will still have some role to play, as tomorrow’s match is being held at Stephenson Park.

With YYN the runaway leaders of the competition, finishing two games and more than 100 percentage points clear on top, the Cougars and Bombers will be out to win tomorrow in the hope of catching the Jets on an off day.

In the eyes of many, the trophy engraver could at least start putting the letters Y-A-L-L on the premiership cup now, but with the Grand Final still some weeks away, there are any number of possibilities that could unfold.

As Churchill and TTU prepare to face each other, there are a few discussion points to be had trying to determine a winner.

The Bombers have won both of their encounters against Churchill this season, the most recent by 33 points in Round 16.

While margins naturally tighten during finals, if TTU was to win tomorrow by around three or four goals, it would not be all that surprising.

The Bombers bat very deep in the midfield stakes, with players the likes of Mitch Mustoe, Michael Jacobsen and Tom Fleming all capable.

Arguably the biggest difference between the two sides is depth. The Bombers lost only one game in the reserves this season and finished second on the ladder. By contrast, the Cougars battled their way through and won only three games.

This discrepancy could have a say in the result, and from all reports, Churchill’s current injury toll will mean it won’t be fielding anywhere near its full-strength side.

The town of Churchill suffered a blow during the week when it was announced the local IGA was closing, and Cougar officials will be hoping this is not an omen that signals the beginning of the end to the football season as well.

What the Cougars do have working in their favour however is finals experience. Having been one of the league’s powerhouse clubs for the best part of a decade, Churchill players such as Chris Williams, Jordan Fenech and Allan Chandler will bring a ‘been here before’ calmness to the equation.

AS if the grudge match between Yarram and Woodside couldn’t get any fiercer.

The neighbouring rivals meet on Sunday in the quest to stay alive in season 2022.

The Demons and Wildcats will mosey on over to Gaskin Park for an Elimination Final showdown, with the winner to meet the loser out of Churchill and TTU.

Yarram has won both matches against Woodside this season, in what has been an interesting case of trading places.

Last season, the Wildcats won a number of games by less than 10 points, while this season, the Demons have done likewise.

Yarram’s almost mystical ability to win close matches has provided a conundrum this season, as there appears to be no logical explanation as to why they have managed to find themselves on the right side of the ledger.

Boadie Motton has been in good form for the Demons, and the former SANFL player looms as someone Woodside will need to put a lot of work into.

After finishing the truncated 2021 season on top of the ladder, and becoming the sentimental favourites of the competition, the Wildcats have been unable to rekindle the magic this year.

That being said, the side has still qualified for finals, and will be eager to make a determined effort after being denied the opportunity 12 months ago.

Woodside stalwart Ryan Foat has been incredibly loyal to the club, and his teammates could find extra motivation to give him a victory to savour.

Astute Wildcats coach Michael Duncan is preparing for another finals series, and will no doubt be preparing for this match like a well calculated game of chess.

Duncan has built quite a strong, if unheralded, coaching CV in a short space of time, turning struggling teams from TTU and Woodside into finals contenders.