AFTER tentatively treading the finals tightrope all season, rookie Howlong coach Joel Price can finally see the finishing line.
The equation is simple.
If the Spiders win their three remaining matches of the season against Lockhart, Culcairn and Walla they will clinch a finals berth.
But lose one match and they will have to settle for the cold comfort of being labelled the best side outside the top six.
While there is no margin for error, Price remained confident the eighth-placed Spiders could sneak a finals berth.
“Losing to CDHBU last week has now made every match a must-win encounter,” Price said.
“This week is huge in the context of our season and we are fully aware what’s at stake and are pretty focused and pumped for a big performance.”
The Spiders let a golden opportunity to secure a finals berth slip last week after going down to CDHBU by nine points.
Price said they still took plenty of positives out of the loss after having six more scoring shots than the Power.
“We were bitterly disappointed with last week,” he said.
“We had a lot more inside 50s and a lot more scoring shots but just weren’t clean enough going forward and wasted too many opportunities.
“There were certainly still a lot of positives with the amount of contested ball we won and the amount of inside 50s.
“If we can fix up our delivery and goalkicking accuracy, we are playing some pretty good footy at the minute.”
The Spiders are expected to be close to full-strength and welcome back tall marking target Syd Leatham and Jayden Natuilagilagi.
Leatham has shelved retirement plans to make a mid-season comeback and help ease the goalkicking pressure on Josh Dicketts and Jesse Dale.
Mark O’Neill will also make his senior debut after emerging through the club’s junior ranks and some recent strong form in the reserves.
The Demons will be without Josh Maniscalco (knee) and Kyle Pertzel (broken leg) after they recently suffered season-ending injuries.
They will be also without former North Melbourne midfielder David Trotter, who tore his hamstring for the third time this season.