‘Twas the night before the last round of the Gippsland League.

Barring any turn-ups, the final make-up of the Gippsland League ladder will remain virtually as is after the completion of Round 18 tomorrow.

After tomorrow, all 10 teams will have played their opponents twice. The top five of Wonthaggi, Moe, Leongatha, Traralgon and Sale will then venture off into finals, while Morwell, Maffra, Bairnsdale, Warragul and Drouin will be cracking what will surely be the first of many beers over the next three days.

SALE faces a unique situation.

The Magpies play Traralgon away from home, the same opponent they will play the very next week – also away from Sale Oval.

Sale cannot finish the season higher than fifth, while the Maroons can climb no higher than fourth, meaning an elimination final between the two is set in stone.

While it hasn’t been entered on PlayHQ yet, possibly to allow officials to crosscheck the eligibility of every single player, Sale will no doubt have one eye turned to the final at Western Park on Sunday week.

Entering a match in full knowledge, you will be playing the same opposition the next week could allow for some interesting byplay.

Does Sale show Traralgon all its cards tomorrow?

Will the Magpies play their full strength side?

Or will they (dare we say it) even be overly concerned about the result?

Traralgon will no doubt be harbouring similar thoughts, although it is probably in Maroons’ best interests to win more than Sale, given they have lost their last three games.

Entering a finals series with four losses under their belt won’t instil a great deal of confidence, and Traralgon will be out to ensure they aren’t just making up the numbers come September.

The Maroons have had a hectic few weeks. A shock loss to Bairnsdale at home two rounds ago and the announcement this week that coach Jake Best would be moving on has the potential to shift their focus away from on-field matters.

Best, who has been Traralgon’s senior coach for three seasons, broke the news to the playing group on Tuesday.

Speculation was rife the Bairnsdale game would lead to his sacking at the end of the year, however, the Gippsland Times can reveal Best resigned after informing Traralgon he could no longer commit the time required to senior coaching due to having a young family.

To his credit, Best has offered to help the Maroons find their next coach.

With potentially just two games left as Traralgon coach, the Maroons will be out to ensure Best’s exit is at least dignified if it does in fact end in the first week of finals.

Sale meanwhile has enjoyed a very positive few weeks, winning their last three games and building up a head of steam as finals approach.

Although some distance off the top three in the eyes of most pundits, there is enough to suggest the Magpies can certainly win a final, from which point, anything can happen.

Sale will go into the finals with both seniors and reserves featuring, which should provide a boost around the club, as well as create competition for spots.

Competition might not just be reserved for adults either. The Magpies debuted Harry Tatterson last week, a kid still in the fourths.

Tatterson is believed to be the third youngest Sale senior debutant after Brad Wynd, who debuted in 1993 at 15 years, nine months, and current Brisbane Lions midfielder Josh Dunkley, who debuted for Sale in 2012 at the age of 15 years, four months, going on to play in the Magpies senior flag that year. (Editor’s note: thanks to Jo Crawford-Wynd for those stats).

Maffra finishes its season tomorrow.

The Eagles have a tough assignment, taking on Leongatha at Parrot Park.

In what may become a case of ‘let’s get this over with’, Maffra will be looking to get through the match with their pride intact.

After winning two games in three weeks between Round 13-15, the Eagles have hit a couple of stumbling blocks.

Maffra let a 45-point halftime advantage disappear against Drouin a fortnight ago, before not scoring either side of halftime against Moe last week.

The Eagles loaded their backline to such an extent last week to try and save face, at one stage they had eight defenders.

Maffra stands to gain hardly anything here except gain another game of experience into younger players.

The Eagles have well and truly adopted a youth policy this season, debuting more than a dozen players.

Mac Huts was the latest senior debutant, and there would probably be no harm playing him again.

Maffra could finish the year eighth on the ladder, if Bairnsdale defeats Warragul.

It would be somewhat ironic if the Eagles end up trading places with the Redlegs, as it took a Nathan Pollard goal after the siren to draw the match for Maffra against Bairnsdale back in Round 1.

In other games, Drouin travels to Moe, while Bairnsdale makes the hike to Warragul.

Morwell welcomes Wonthaggi, who look certain to claim the minor premiership.

The Power are equal-first with the Lions on the ladder, but some distance ahead on percentage.

The first week of finals will be played in Wonthaggi (qualifying) and Warragul (elimination).