Shepparton Bulls have slumped to a second straight defeat on the road.
The defeat virtually rules out the Bulls from playing Victorian Rugby Union second division finals for a second straight season after their maiden appearance last year.
Shepparton sits fifth on the ladder, with the finals system a top four, but rivals Melton secured a seventh victory of the season to effectively stamp out the Bulls’ chances.
There are three rounds to go in the season and Melton has built a three-game buffer on the Bulls, meaning it would take close to a miracle to make it past the home-and-away season.
Shepparton does have a better points differential than Melton, but the Bulls would have to win every game and Melton would have to drop every match.
It will start Saturday when the Bulls are back at home at Vibert Reserve to host Melton.
The 36-17 loss against Geelong last Saturday proved tough going for the Bulls, with the home side on top from the start.
Geelong put 17 points on the board in the first half, while Shepparton failed to score at all.
Things got slightly better for the Bulls after half-time, running in some tries, but Geelong kept them at bay to keep alive its chances of a top two finish and a double chance.
The Bulls went into the game undermanned and were without coach Stony Scanlan for the second week in a row due to being overseas.
Meanwhile, the Bulls’ women went down to Moorabbin, but continued their improvement after only forming as a team this year.