HENTY has secured a prized top-two finish after overpowering premiership contender Holbrook by 33 points at Henty on Saturday.
The Swampies’ 11.14 (80) to 7.5 (47) victory ensured the double chance with a 15-2 record while the third-placed Brookers now have the tough ask of winning four consecutive finals to claim the flag.
Both sides went into the clash undermanned with the Swampies missing Azzi medallist Jamarl O’Sullivan (groin), Jared Farwell and Jack McCallum.
The Brookers were without coach Jarrod Twitt (broken finger), Jim Grills (unavailable) Brad Thompson and ruckman Aaron Baker.
Both Thompson and Baker were surprise inclusions in the reserves and were among the Brookers’ better players.
Key defender Beau Connell was named the Swampies’ best after restricting the league’s leading goalkicker James Breen to two goals and his second-lowest tally this season.
Swampie midfielder Simon Hillier enhanced his Azzi medal chances with another 30-plus possessions while talented teenager Isaac Muller dominated the hit-outs in the absence of Baker.
Henty coach Brent Piltz was mindful both sides had several key inclusions if they happened to cross paths during the finals series but was pleased to maintain its unbeaten record at home this season.
“It was a handy scalp to get ahead of finals but both teams were a bit under-strength,” Piltz said.
“But I suppose you just take each contest as it comes.
“We were very keen to keep our unbeaten record at home intact, being our last home game of the season.
“Like all clubs you want to make your home ground a bit of a fortress.
“Also mathematically we can’t finish outside top two which is a huge bonus.”
Henty now clashes with fierce rival Culcairn in the final round of the season while the Brookers enjoy the bye before a likely clash with Jindera in the first week of the finals.
Piltz declared the premiership race wide open.
“I suppose we haven’t had a consistent side on the park all season with injuries but I suppose most of the other contenders are in a similar boat,” he said.
“To finish top two considering our injuries and unavailability is a credit to the club’s depth.
“Our form has picked-up over the past month especially our middle range players and the young blokes are having a real crack.
“But we have played Brock-Burrum, Osborne and Holbrook over the past month and there certainly isn’t much between us.
“It’s just going to come down to who can take their chances when they present themselves.
“It’s shaping as a cracking finals series and that’s why finishing top two is so important.”
In other matches Kylin Morey and Darryn McKimmie combined for 13 goals in Brock-Burrum’s impressive 93-point win over Rand-Walbundrie.
Howlong had little trouble accounting for Walla by 100 points.