Originally written by CODY WINNELL
SMW Rovers, Glenthompson-Dunkeld and Penshurst are fighting against different rivals at different venues on Saturday but all for the one prize – a Mininera and District Football League finals berth.
Put as simply as possible, if either Glenthompson-Dunkeld or SMW Rovers lose then Penshurst will make the top five, but if both the former teams win, the Bombers will be sixth.
It promises to be one of the most engaging and dramatic final rounds of footballer for some time.
Penshurst coach Tim Delany said the team’s main aim had to be securing the four points against Moyston-Willaura.
“We’ve just got to make sure we win,” Delany said. “In a way we’re in a fairly favourable position as those other two teams have tough games (versus Wickliffe-Lake Bolac and Lismore-Derrinallum).
“However, the way results have been falling in the last few rounds, anything is possible.”
Delany admitted the Bombers had been inconsistent throughout 2005 but was positive about their chances if indeed they were to scrape into the finals.
“Finals are different, anything can happen.
“No doubt Wickliffe-Lake Bolac is the team to beat, but strange things do happen in football.”
The Bombers have recently arrived at a turning point in their season.
They defeated SMW Rovers two rounds ago and then backed it up with a strong win over Caramut last weekend.
Troy McCormack has been a big part in the Bombers’ late season revival and earned praise from his coach.
“He always stands out for us, he really leads by example and gets plenty of the ball in and under the packs.
“If we can indeed make the finals then he’s a crucial part of our overall outcome.”
Glenthompson-Dunkeld is currently fifth and while a victory would ensure it a finals berth, a loss would certainly end its chances.
Assistant coach Glen Darroch acknowledged that the last round would be an elimination final for the Rams.
“Rovers have a tough game, while Penshurst should be able to win comfortably, we really have to win.”
Darroch said last time Glenthompson-Dunkeld met Lismore-Derrinallum the latter won by about three goals.
However, the Rams have made substantial improvement since early in 2005.
“There was only three goals in it last time we played them and we’ve improved a fair bit.
“Plus we’re at home and we always go better there and if the rain keeps coming down, that will be in our favour as well.”
Darroch explained that the Demons were very much “a running side” which boasted “a stack of skill”.
“Wet weather will certainly help us quash their run, so hopefully this rain continues.”
Glenthompson-Dunkeld will have no excuses for not winning in the final round, it has a full roster to choose from.
“We’ve got no injury worries at the moment, which is a real bonus.
“Our form has been pretty good leading in, probably the only disappointment was against Wickliffe-Lake Bolac.”
Rovers have arguably the least chance to make the finals despite starting round 18 with a two-point lead over Penshurst and Glenthompson-Dunkeld.
Coach Michael Loader, however, sounded quite confident about his side’s chances.
About playing against Wickliffe-Lake Bolac he said “they’ve got to be beaten at some stage don’t they”.
“They’re a very impressive side, they beat us pretty well the first time around but we’re stronger now, we’re playing better footy.”
With a daunting 17-0 record not many tipsters (if any) are expected to back Rovers to win and to make matters worse for the underdog, Loader revealed that the side currently has a couple of injury worries.
“We’ve got a couple of guys with bad knees, unfortunately they’re two of our best in Ashley Renaldi and Nick Byrne.
“But we’ve been playing well of late and hopefully we can serve it right up to them.”
Rovers comfortably defeated Tatyoon last weekend and Loader believed it was a true indication of just how well the reigning premier can play if they it puts its mind to it.
“We’ve had a lot of emotion around the club for obvious reasons in the last couple of weeks and we’ve been right off our game.
“It’s a fair bit different to last year in that respect.
“We didn’t have a lapse in 2004. This year we’ve played well against the weaker sides but ordinary against the top sides, you’ve got to be more consistent than that.”
All believed the premiership race was very open, with Darroch highlighting that.
“You won’t find too many country football competitions that are going to the wire like the Mininera league is.”