KOONDROOK/BARHAM faces a must-win game tomorrow against Nyah-Nyah West United, with the result to shape the Central Murray Football Netball League finals race.
One win separates the fourth-placed Demons and eighth-placed Raiders, with the result of this match to impact on the finals chances of half of the competition.
The border side returned to the winners' list last weekend thanks to a 38-point win against Balranald, and a victory tomorrow will see the Raiders jump above the Cohuna Kangas – who are seventh on the ladder.
This outcome will also see the Demons, Tyntynder, Swan Hill and Raiders all have seven wins of the season – but this will only occur if the Bulldogs lose to Woorinen and Kerang defeats the Swans.
However, the border side's finals hopes will be over if the Demons win, with a victory all but securing a finals spot for last season's grand finalists, who face Tooleybuc/Manangatang and Lake Boga in the final two weekends of the home and away season.
This outcome will leave the Raiders eighth on the ladder – even if Balranald defeats Tooleybuc/Manangatang – before the club's final match of the season against Lake Boga.
A second quarter blitz from the Mallee Eagles cost the Demons last weekend, with Joel Campbell's side going down by 41 points.
The Demons will look to ensure a repeat effort does not occur again tomorrow, especially against a side that boasts numerous goalkicking options.
Dean Limbach – who kicked six goals in last weekend's win – will be pivotal for the hosts, with Marc O'Neill and Troy Rogers just as prolific in the midfield.
Adrian Knee will go to Limbach, with Corey Daniels and Ashley Thompson to led the way in the midfield for the visitors.
Alex Erlandson was held to one goal in last weekend's loss, and if Jack Fenner can do the same tomorrow, the Raiders will produce a second consecutive win against the Demons.
Koondrook/Barham won by seven points when these teams last met in round five. Another close result is certain tomorrow.
PREDICTION: Koondrook/Barham will win by 10 points.
Strong record to continue
CENTRAL Murray Football Netball League leaders, Kerang will look to record its seventh consecutive win tomorrow when the Blues host Swan Hill.
Both sides are in the thick of the battle for finals places, with the Blues jostling with Tyntynder for the minor premiership and a break during the weekend of August 26 and 27.
The fifth-placed Swans share the same number of wins as fourth-placed Nyah-Nyah West United and sixth-placed Woorinen, and need to win at Riverside Park to move closer to an elimination final spot.
In what is becoming a common practice at this time of year, Kerang is beginning to find its best form at the business end of the season – evident in last weekend's 93-point win against Lake Boga.
The Swans – who recorded a 34-point win against the Cohuna Kangas six days ago – will rely on the experience of reigning Jack Betts Medallist, Matthew Wade, as well as Xavier Moloney and Jonathon Hirst to snap a six-match losing streak against the Blues.
The battle between Troy Coates and Moloney in the middle of the ground will be a highlight, with Wade and Ryan Gillingham to go head-to-head.
The concern the visitors will have is how it will kick goals against a strong Kerang defensive unit, led by Patrick Taban and Brad Pay.
If Brendon Caldwell and the Swans' goalkicking midfielders can control play, a win may be on the cards.
However, Kerang's forward strength – evident whenever Scott Lockwood, Luke Cotchett and Troy Thamm are given the freedom to control play – will be too much for the visitors.
Kerang held on for a three-point win when the sides last met in round five. The Blues' strong home ground advantage over the Swans will ensure tomorrow's margin is significantly larger.
PREDICTION: Kerang will win by 30 points.
Eagle task too great
WITH a Central Murray Football Netball League qualifying spot secured, the Mallee Eagles will look to produce a big win against Lake Boga tomorrow in an attempt to improve its percentage.
The Eagles are one win behind competition leaders, Kerang and Woorinen, and with the Tigers taking on Tyntynder tomorrow before a round 17 bye, Dean Helmers' team is well placed to move into the top two.
The Magpies are also locked in a battle with Tooleybuc/Manangatang to avoid finishing 11th on the ladder, and a Saints win against Balranald and a loss at Lalbert will see Jayden Lonergan's team drop to the foot of the ladder.
The Eagles prevailed by 97 points when the sides met in round five, and if the hosts perform like they did in the second and third quarters of last weekend's 41-point win against Nyah-Nyah West United, another one-sided affair is certain.
Caine Hillier – who kicked eight goals in the corresponding match earlier in the season – will have another day out, with either Joshua Cameron or Ricky Wild to go to the spearhead.
The hosts' midfield – led by Steven Boyall and Boden Alexander – will be too strong for Kyle Brawn and the visitors' playmakers, whilst Lonergan will struggle to get the ball inside the Magpies' forward 50 against the likes of Braidon Bennett and Chris Worner.
PREDICTION: The Mallee Eagles will win by 80 points.