O and M's top five set to be strongest in 20 years

TIM'S TRAVELS: Yarrawonga's Tim Cooper has returned from his overseas holiday. The Pigeons missed him in the last round before the bye.

TIM'S TRAVELS: Yarrawonga's Tim Cooper has returned from his overseas holiday. The Pigeons missed him in the last round before the bye.

The league is on target for its strongest top five in 20 years.

Second-placed Yarrawonga through to fifth-placed Wangaratta sit on eight wins and four losses.

With six rounds left, that quartet would be targeting four wins to guarantee a finals berth.

Nineteen ninety-seven is the last time a team needed 12 wins or more to finish in the top five.

Three’s been three occasions (2004, 2013 and 2014) in that time where teams have needed only eight wins.

The tightness of this year’s competition should guarantee the elimination finalists won’t be just filling in the numbers as has happened at times in the past two decades.

That should also be shown by the potential difference between fifth and third.

In 2014, seven and a half games separated the two, but it could be as little as a win.

Meanwhile, Yarrawonga starts the league’s final block of the home and away season with its only ‘easy’ clash against North Albury on Saturday.

The Pigeons face the toughest run home of those battling for a finals berth.

Albury leads the race for the minor premiership by three games, so there’s still six teams battling for the last four spots.

The Pigeons are currently second on percentage after posting some big wins in the first half of the season.

Lavington, Wodonga Raiders and Wangaratta have the same record, but Yarrawonga has a percentage lead of around 60 on all those fellow top three contenders.

“We’ve been setting ourselves for the end of the year for a long time now,” co-coach Chris Kennedy said.

“I thought we played pretty well against Wangaratta, it’s interesting to see everyone talking about how many players they have had out, we just work on what we’ve got.

“We’ve always been in the contest, so whatever side we’ll put out there, it’s been as a buildup to the finals, so pretty much what we’ve been concentrating on is making sure we’ve got a very competitive style of play.”

After hosting the Hoppers, who have only two wins, the Pigeons face Myrtleford (h), Albury (a), Wodonga Raiders (h), Lavington (a) and Wodonga (h).

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