Wangaratta Rovers' hopes of a fairytale finals appearance are realistically over after Sunday's loss to fierce rivals Wangaratta.
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The Hawks battled hard, but the premiership favourites' class was the difference in the 16.18 (114) to 10.8 (68) win.
Rovers were looking to become the first club in the competition's 126-year history to go from a winless wooden spoon to the top five the next season.
The Hawks are equal with Wodonga Raiders heading into Saturday's final round, but trail by a percentage of 7.11.
Rovers will start favourites to topple Yarrawonga, but Raiders are much shorter odds to hammer North Albury.
If, for example, the Hawks were able to stun the form line by posting a 100-point win and North did the same by falling by 10 points, it would become a tight battle, but the dream is over.
However, Rovers' effort to post what should be nine wins against Yarrawonga has been one of the stories of the year.
Buoyant coach Daryn Cresswell was quizzed after the game how many players the club needs to play finals.
"Four or five," he said after speaking to the players.
"We're a long way down the track with our recruiting, we hope by the time the grand final siren (September 22) goes, our list will be settled."
A complicating issue could be the player points awarded to the Hawks.
The five teams which missed last year's finals all received extra points for 2019.
Rovers have operated on 44 points, and they averaged 40 prior to yesterday, with the club set to ask for more than the traditional 38, which last year's top five have had.
"We haven't mentioned any names, but we've signed three or four already and have another two or three we're pretty close to," Cresswell said.
There's been speculation a host of Rovers' juniors, such as former interleague star Tyson Hartwig and Sam Caruso, will return as, crucially, one-point players.
"We have to wait for players to finish the season before we start announcing anyone," Cresswell said.
"They're the sort of players who hold the jumper in high regard and they've got a lot of respect around the club."
Rovers have basically re-signed their entire list for 2020, including boom defender Nathan Cooper, who's been linked to the AFL.