BULLIOH has been dealt a savage blow with classy utility Clint Ried ruled out of its elimination final clash against Tumbarumba on Saturday with a neck injury.
Ried suffered the injury against Cudgewa in round 14 and missed the Bulldogs’ 93-point win over Federal last week.
Bulldogs coach Peter Dean conceded the absence of their best player was a major setback ahead of the cut-throat encounter.
“Unfortunately it looks like Clint will have to miss again this week,” Dean said.
“He is still fairly sore but is starting to move a lot more freely.
“Fingers crossed we can get the job done this week, enjoy a week off and he will be right for the preliminary final.”
Ried has enjoyed another outstanding season to take out his fifth best and fairest with the Bulldogs.
He beat midfielder Jacob Curran, James McAuley, Dustin Moffatt and Tom Hickey for the award.
Tumbarumba also has its own injury concern with Ben Carey also in doubt with a hamstring complaint.
Carey missed last week’s encounter against Border-Walwa and the Roos will have little chance of springing an upset without their most potent forward.
The strong marking forward has booted 52 goals so far this season to finish fourth on the league goalkicking table.
Bullioh will start an overwhelming favourite after winning its three encounters this season by nine, 43 and 47 points.
“We will take a bit of confidence out of those wins but are fully aware anything can happen in finals,” Dean said.
“They have won the past two flags and there is no doubt we have to be switched on mentally.
“A couple of injuries and the tide can turn fairly quickly so we are definitely not taking Tumbarumba lightly.”
Dean said the Bulldogs had moved on quickly after the disappointment of missing the double chance after Corryong upset flag favourite Cudgewa in the final round to snatch second spot.
“Full credit to Corryong and it just proves how the premiership race is still wide open,” he said.
“We will just play with the cards we have been dealt and I still think any of the top-three teams are capable of winning on their day.”