The Tallangatta and District Football League will be cut down to four following Sunday’s elimination final between Rutherglen and Mitta United at Sandy Creek.
The Cats and Mountain Men split their two meetings this season after both prevailing on their home patch, making them tough to separate this weekend.
Rutherglen coach Damien Wilson said despite missing a chance to finish top three last weekend with a loss against Kiewa-Sandy Creek, the side is approaching the sudden death clash full of confidence after the way it finished the game.
“Our second half against Kiewa was the footy we know we can play,” Wilson said.
“We let ourselves down in the first half purely through our mistakes.”
The loss of captain Jakeb Meyer for the season with a broken arm will be the biggest headache for Wilson, but he’s confident the Cats have the depth to call upon.
Rutherglen will welcome back the experience of Matt Glossop for the elimination final, while assistant coach Nathan Waite must pass a fitness test after straining his hamstring a fortnight ago.
“If we can get those two guys through, especially as they’ve played a lot of footy, they’ll be massive inclusions for us,” Wilson said.
Wilson isn’t taking much from their previous meeting against the Mountain Men in round 13, where they lost by eight goals, but rather focusing on what they’ve achieved in the past month.
“We had 11 guys that went through the seniors in the first six weeks that weren’t available against Mitta when we played them up there,” he said.
“Obviously Kiewa is a quality outfit, so the second half (last week) and that momentum will be big for us this Sunday.”
Mitta holds an ominous finals record with 22 Tallangatta League premierships to its name.
Mark Dicketts’ side has a number of players who have been at this stage before and he admits any experience in finals is beneficial.
“Quite a few of the guys from last year and previous years have played there (Sandy Creek) and definitely know what’s required,” Dicketts said.
“We can at least take confidence that they’re not going to be overawed or anything like that from our point-of-view. We’re probably not the only one, but we probably haven’t had the ideal lead into finals with a few injuries, but I think there’s still that belief.
“We only need to look back at a few results and we’ve beaten second (Wahgunyah), third (Kiewa-Sandy Creek) and fourth (Rutherglen) in our previous encounters.
“It’s disappointing not to get a double chance, but you’re in the finals and from there you never know what’s going to happen.”
Nick Gilbert will be the only likely inclusion for the Mountain Men.
The winner will meet the loser of Saturday’s qualifying final between the Hawks and Lions in the minor semi-final a week later.