FINLEY coach Damian Sexton expects Deniliquin Rams to lift this finals series for outgoing coach Gary Parsons.
Parsons, who has led the Rams to five Murray league premierships, will stand aside at the end of the year.
Sexton said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams wanted to send Parsons out in style.
“I suppose you use every angle you can to get up,” he said.
“But in the same boat, our blokes obviously lost a grand final last year and are very hungry for success.
“We’re expecting a bloody big challenge.
“Deni is a very good side.”
Despite finishing well clear of the Rams on the ladder, both will fight for survival in the first week of finals.
Sexton said he had no issue with the way the Murray league finals were structured.
Ladder leaders Mulwala and Echuca United have the week off, while the other four teams in the top-six face off in elimination finals this weekend.
“That’s the way it is,” Sexton said.
“We’re just worried about being up and about and ready for the occasion, to be honest.
“All four sides are equal now; I always say the home and away rounds are practice matches.
“The real stuff starts now.”
The Cats, who have been plagued by injury all season, lost Chris Harkins to a hamstring strain at the weekend.
He won’t play on Saturday.
Finley has used 39 players at senior level this year.
In the other knockout final, on Sunday, Cobram take on dark horse Numurkah.
Tigers’ co-coach Trevor Mills said there was no doubt their weekend opponent was one of the form sides of the league, at the right time of the year.
“Early in the year a few people started to write them off,” Mills said.
“But ever since we beat them, up until Saturday, they were one of the form teams of the league.
“They definitely deserve to be here and this week is a real 50-50 game, don’t you worry about that.”
Both clubs are set to be without a key name on Sunday, with Cobram star Tom Crapp cracking his fibula in the final round and Numurkah’s Mark Brown under a serious injury cloud of his own.
Neither are expected to play.