The River Murray Football League minor round wraps up this weekend marking an end to what has been a dramatic and unpredictable run to the finals.
The final teams are as good as set with Imperials anchored on the bottom of the table and Tailem Bend likely to fall short.
The Eagles, who went win-less in 2016, improved their record to five wins this year but look very likely to miss finals by either one win or percentage, relying on Imperials to win by a huge margin to change the five.
MYPOLONGA v MENINGIE
The game of the round will see Mypolonga host Meningie for a battle between the first and third-placed sides.
Mypolonga had the bye last weekend but have won their last three matches so they head into the game in good form.
The Tigers’ record sits at 10 wins and five losses; an impressive results from a team many had written-off in the preseason.
Meningie head into the match on top of the table with a five-match winning streak behind them.
In fact, the last time the Bears lost was against Mypolonga in round 11 when the Tigers went on a scoring frenzy to win by 61 points.
The Tigers had 12 individual scorers that day on their way to 27 majors as James Moss and Simon Norris combined for 10 goals.
Meningie was able to get over the 100-point mark but it cannot allow a Tiger offensive onslaught like that this weekend if they are to win this time around.
It’s Moss and Norris who are the main scorers for the Tigers and both have recorded big bags against the Bears this year.
Defensively, Corey Jones is the Tigers’ main man in the back half and he has been in good form.
The Mypolonga midfield is led by the ever-impressive Ben Gogel who is having an outstanding season and is well supported by Clint Diment, Lachlan Butler and Seamus McDonnell, while Nathan Wright is a competitor in the ruck.
However, they come up against the league’s best midfield with Karl Lohde, Brian Fenton, Myles Warmington, Tyson Schmid and Brodie Martin, all star players who make good use of Peter Nelson’s stellar ruck work.
This match will be a telling clash for the Tigers ahead of the finals.
After some early season hiccups, Mypolonga have emerged as genuine contenders for the flag.
However, Meningie have the premiership-favourite tag for a reason.
The Bears have lost two games this season and should get their revenge on the Tigers this weekend as they look to hit top-form with a first finals round by as the top seed.
The Standard’s tip: Meningie, 11-20 points.
RAMBLERS v MANNUM
The Roosters and the Roos will clash at LeMessurier Oval on Saturday in a match that sees second on the premiership table pitched against fourth.
The Roos cannot drop from their second seeding while a loss for Ramblers could see an inconsequential slide from fourth to fifth.
The sides have met twice this year and share the wins; the Roosters took the points in round one while the Roos bounced back to record a big win in round eight.
For much of the season, the Roos were the in-form side who rushed to premiership favouritism as they recorded an impressive nine-match winning streak.
However, Mannum was then shot down by injury to key players and still have injury concerns.
Star player Levi Krause made his successful return to the side ahead of the finals but Jye De Zylva appeared to do a hamstring in his return game for the Roos.
A lot of the attention will be firmly placed on Mannum forward Gene Robinson.
Robinson sits on 94 goals and requires six more to hit the magical 100-goal milestone before the end of the minor round.
He has kicked bags of four and eight against the Roosters this season so he requires his average output to get him over the line.
Robinson is supported by forward targets Korey Loechel and James Smith. Ramblers got stitched up by Meningie last weekend but have had some very good moments in recent weeks and cannot be written off.
The Roosters have good senior players in Jarrad Weyland, Muffy Kartinyeri and Patrick O’Neil leading a talented young list who are quick, work hard and are showing good signs for the future.
However, the Roosters don’t have the scoring power of the Roos and the visitors should get the job done.
Robinson to hit 100 and Mannum to win.
The Standard’s tip: Mannum, 21-30 points.
JERVOIS v IMPERIALS
The Bluds host Imperials for the Blues last match of 2017. Imperials won’t be playing finals and outside of an unlikely mammoth 111-point win, cannot change the week one finals fixture so they will be playing for pride.
Jervois, on the other hand, will be hoping to use this match to respond in front of their home crowd.
Last week, the Bluds lost to Tailem Bend to lose their third game in a row.
The Bluds are a side confident of making a splash in the finals – their best football is capable of matching it with any side.
However, with three losses and a narrow win over Ramblers in the last month, Jervois will be hoping to get all their systems right ahead of their elimination final against the Roosters at Mannum next week.
It must start on Saturday. Justin Hardy is their key forward who rarely lets his side down, Bradley Gabell is having a breakout season and Peter Zarantonello and Tony Gibson are in good form.
The Bluds will be stronger if Dylan Barry is back this week while Owen Love, Matthew Kemp and Casey Robins are going to be key players heading into the finals.
For the Blues, the likes of Matthew Williams, Daniel Girham and Ryan Edwards never stop trying but with some key outs, a win here is unlikely.
The Standard’s tip: Jervois by 21-30 points.