FOR Ryan Richardson and Darren Hatton, it’s pretty simple.
Win on Saturday and their team will play finals.
Lose, and that dream will be over should Barnawartha defeat Chiltern as expected.
Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Rutherglen are playing for their seasons on Saturday.
There’s no doubt about it.
The Hawks and Cats meet in the most important of final round showdowns this week and for both of them, winning is a non-negotiable.
“There’s no other option,” Richardson said.
“Our finals start now, really.
“But we’re looking forward to it.
“It should be a tough game.
“Rutherglen are going fairly well.”
But Richardson said the Hawks were, too.
Although the prospect of Kiewa-Sandy Creek missing finals this year would shock any Tallangatta league fan, it has hardly been a catastrophic season for the Hawks.
A three-point loss to Thurgoona in round 16 could end up all that separated the Hawks from a spot in the finals and potential top-three finish this year should they end up missing the five.
“We’ve actually been playing really good footy,” Richardson said.
“If we’d won that game against Thurgoona we’d be second on the ladder.
“That’s how close it all is.
“We’re confident about the way we’ve been playing.”
Hatton, meanwhile, couldn’t fault Richardson’s logic about this week’s clash at Kiewa.
“It’s pretty straight-forward,” Hatton said.
“We need to knock Kiewa off.
“We can’t be relying on Chiltern to beat Barny.
“Richo is right — finals have probably come that week earlier for us.”
The finals-hardened Hawks no doubt go in favourites at home, however, Hatton is understandably optimistic about the Cats’ chances of figuring in the business end of the season.
“I think we’ve proven throughout the year against the top five that our best footy allows us to compete with those sides,” he said.
“We were good enough to beat Thurgoona and I think we’ve proven we can knock these type of sides over.
“We just need to be super consistent with our effort across four quarters.”
Neither sees this week’s clash as the end of the road, either.
“We’ve been there before and know what’s involved,” Richardson said.
“We’ve pretty much got a full list to choose from for the first time this year and we know we can take it up to most sides.
“We reckon we can do it and we don’t want this to be our last game for the year.”