KIEWA Sandy Creek coach Adam Mudra has put the acid on his players to rebound strongly against finals bound Tallangatta on Saturday.
The Hawks are coming off their worst performance for several seasons after being thumped by 96 points against Thurgoona before last weekends bye.
The crushing loss has made it almost impossible for the Hawks to finish in the top three.
It has also raised serious questions about their flag credentials.
Despite the alarm bells ringing, Mudra said he still has great faith in what the Hawks can achieve.
"Yes, the loss against Thurgoona was our worst performance in my time at the club," Mudra said.
"Thurgoona are obviously an exceptionally good side and we are not playing anywhere near the level we are capable of."
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The Hawks were missing prized recruit Michael Thompson, Scott Bartel, Tim Darcy, Ryan Wallace and Jay Berry against Thurgoona.
Mudra refused to blame injuries for the caning.
"Injuries are a part of footy and you have to find a way to get the job done regardless of who you have got on the park," he said.
"We rate ourselves as an anywhere, anytime sort of team but unfortunately that didn't happen against Thurgoona.
"History says there have been plenty of sides that get beat convincingly and rebound strongly the following week.
"That's the trait of a good side.
"Acknowledge that you weren't good enough and the reasons why but then respond.
"I will be certainly looking for a response on the weekend."
The Hawks trail third-placed Chiltern by six points plus percentage and look destined to meet Tallangatta in the elimination final.
Mudra said his focus was solely on this weekend and not on ladder positions.
"It's mathematically still possible that we can finish top three," he said.
"But if you look too far ahead, you lose sight of what is right in front of you.
"For us, what's right in front of us is an exceptionally good Tallangatta team that is playing some decent footy at the minute."
Tallangatta sit fifth with a 7-4-1 record and can leapfrog the Hawks into fourth spot with victory on Saturday.
The Hoppers let a golden opportunity slip last round against Barnawartha, leading by 13 points at the final change before fading late.
Mudra rated Tallangatta as a tough proposition.
"Tallangatta got within 10 points of Barnawartha which is a fair effort," he said.
"Barnawartha are a top three side.
"There is a fair bit at stake because whoever loses slips back amongst the chasing pack and are suddenly scrapping for a finals spot."
Mudra is hopeful several players will return for the crunch clash.
"I'm optimistic Thompson and Bartel will play but won't know for sure to after training on Thursday night," he said.
Tallangatta will be sweating on the availability of Tom Russell and Scott Spencer who missed last round.
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