THE good news for Barnawartha is it only needs to win its final two matches to play finals.
But the bad news is that one of them is against reigning premier and in-form Tallangatta and District league heavyweight Mitta United on Saturday.
The Blues have been flying since going down to Thurgoona by 12 points in round 12 and Barnawartha coach Mark Sarau knows the Tigers will have earned their spot if they sneak into the finals.
“It’s been really tight for a while now and last weekend turned out perfectly for us because if Kiewa-Sandy Creek or Rutherglen had won we were done,” Sarau said.
“At least it’s up to us unless Kiewa and Rutherglen have a draw in the final round.
“Mitta is absolutely flying though and we know how tough it’s going to be to get over them.
“They gave Rutherglen a real touch up last weekend and are up and about again.
“The chance is there and it’s whether we are good enough to take it.”
Barnawartha is sitting two premiership points behind Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Rutherglen with the Hawks and Cats expected to beat Yackandandah and Wodonga Saints respectively this weekend.
If the Tigers upset Mitta United, they must defeat Chiltern in the final round with the loser of the Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Rutherglen match to miss the finals.
Sarau blames narrow losses to Chiltern and Wahgunyah earlier in the season for his team being in trouble but has been proud of the way it has fought back into contention.
“We lost by 7 and 13 points and full credit to those clubs for winning, but we played poorly and it put us behind the eight-ball,” he said.
“Like some of the other sides, we have had a few injuries and the pleasing thing has been the way young blokes like Jordan Palmer, Ryan Lempa and Brendan McGuire have come on.
“Saturday is another really big test for us as we know Mitta will be a vastly improved team from when we played them earlier in the season.
“It will be an exciting game.”
While Sarau’s focus is firmly on Saturday’s match at Barnawartha, he has signed on for another 12 months as coach and is excited by what lies ahead.
The Tigers are set to unveil a new social club next year and Sarau hopes the emergence of several under-17 players and recruits will see them make major inroads on and off the field.
“The club’s long term future is really bright,” he said.
“You always like to have success in your first year, but the reality is it can take time for things to tick over.”