SEPTEMBER is still six weeks away, but Deniliquin Rams coach Troy Bartlett says the club’s finals campaign starts on Saturday.
The Murray league fin-als race shapes as close to the most interesting in country Australia, with seven teams all still in contention to claim top spot.
Unbelievably, one of them will miss out on fin-als action altogether.
The Rams have bounced back from a 1-4 start to sit fourth with a record of 8-4 after 12 rounds.
They’ve won seven on the trot but coach Troy Bartlett isn’t resting on his laurels ahead of Saturday’s blockbuster against ladder leader Finley.
“Our finals start just about now, to be honest,” Bartlett said.
“If we lose this week, we probably fall back outside the six.
“That’s how tight it is.
“We’ve got a tough month or so coming up and we probably need to win most of them to make it.”
Despite the club’s shaky start, Bartlett said he never gave up on the Rams’ finals hopes.
“We lost a couple early but we weren’t doing a lot wrong,” he said.
“We were right in all those games.
“We were doing everything other than winning.
“We just needed the guys to stand up and they have been.”
Bartlett said Finley would provide a stern challenge for his in-form team this week.
The Rams’ playing coach said the Cats had stood up all season, especially as they hadn’t been able to play at home because of clubroom developments.
“I think it’s pretty safe to argue they’re one of the better teams,” Bartlett said.
Mulwala should work its way back into the top six with a win over Congupna while Barooga should have little trouble against Cobram.
The Hawks sit in sixth spot and will enter at least four of their six remaining games as favourites.
Nathalia has a potentially tricky match-up against the Blues at Tongala.
Rumbalara should be too strong for Numurkah, while Moama faces a tough ask against Echuca United.