Season-defining match-up

Boolarra's Scott Cooper tackles Yinnar's Damian Yates. file photograph

Boolarra's Scott Cooper tackles Yinnar's Damian Yates. file photograph

FOOTBALL

MID GIPPSLAND

This weekend's clash with Newborough may well be the most important game in many years for Yarragon.

The Panthers strung two wins together prior to the break and are just one win away from starting to believe that a finals push might be possible.

Yarragon have shown patches of form in the opening rounds but never enough to secure premiership points – which is what it's all about.

If the Panthers can find a winning forward in the back half of the season they may be able to cause some teams above them some headaches.

Prior to that, however, they must first account for a side below them and that's Newborough.

The Bulldogs wouldn't have given up on this season either but a loss this week will spell the end for either side.

YYN v Thorpdale

There will be two games in particular that Yallourn/Yallourn North will have earmarked as must win games – this one against Thorpdale and later in the year against Mirboo North – the only two sides to have defeated them in the first part of the year.

The Blues were probably better prepared than the Bombers in round one and reaped the rewards then but it will be a whole new ball game for the visitors when they make their way to Yallourn's home ground this week.

The likely good conditions and open space will be perfect for the bunch of Bombers runners that are sprinkled through the side.

Thorpdale coach Josh Collie will know he has a game on his hands and will be planning accordingly.

Make no mistake, Thorpdale are a very good side – strong and honest – but they will be up against it this weekend.

Yinnar v Mirboo North

The mid-season break couldn't have come at a better time for Yinnar.

For most of the first nine rounds coach Jaime Aitken has had to navigate his way through an unusually high number of injuries and players with prior commitments.

With that now behind them, expect a good side to get even better from here on in.

The Magpies have won ugly, won thin, but won nonetheless and you can expect they might get the points again this week.

Mirboo North were beaten in the season opener of 2018 and that set the reigning premiers on a run of four straight losses before they hit top gear.

The Tigers have bobbed their head into the top five a little earlier than some expected and teams above them are starting to take note.

One of those is Yinnar and this will give both sides a really good indication of what each other can expect if their paths are to cross again at the business end of the season.

Playing coach Josh Taylor will be back feeling refreshed after some time in the sun and surf and the spring in his step will be just what his Tigers need to take up to the home side.

Boolarra v Morwell East

Morwell East desperately need an easy win to restore some lost confidence in both coach and players.

The Hawks have fallen short of pre-season expectations but have delivered on occasion.

They have the talent and they have the coach but need to find some grit for four full quarters.

A win this weekend may have them back in the top five with their destiny very much back in their own hands but it will only be the first step of nine before finals time and they will need to be focused every step of the way.

Boolarra will have given themselves a target of bridging the gap that existed in every match between themselves and their opponents through the first half of the year.

In round one that margin was 124 points so they have a fair amount of wriggle room to work with.

Trafalgar v Hill End

Trafalgar may have surprised themselves with their impressive first half of the season.

Eight wins and just one loss means the Bloods have full control of where they want to be at the end of the home and away season.

They have to continue to win but this season they have much more breathing space than they did in 2017 when they were blocked from a finals berth in the last round of the year.

Motivation to continue to perform at their current high level is what coach Clint Einsiedel will be focusing on but that job may be made easier for him with depth in personnel meaning tough decisions can be made on players with no real detriment to the side.

The Rovers are doing a fine job in competing as best they can with the limited numbers but will be hard pressed against Trafalgar this weekend.

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