Opinion

Time to confirm plans

by
August 04, 2017

On the verge of becoming the greatest team in Goulburn Valley League history, Kyabram Bombers will feature among the clubs booking a place in this season's finals series.

All Goulburn Valley teams can start booking their September plans.

Kyabram has been thinking ahead to next month since probably last September after winning the grand final undefeated, with the Bombers on the verge of becoming the greatest team in league history.

Most teams set out to feature in the finals before a season begins, but only six can make it.

With how last Saturday panned out, it all but assured who would be battling it out for the premiership next month.

Rochester responded from the worst loss in James Flaherty’s three-year tenure in round 14 when it lost by 116 points to bounce back and upset Euroa.

That result was always going to be great for the Tigers, but Christmas came early when traditional rival Echuca botched up an opportunity against potential wooden spooner Shepparton Swans.

There is no way of sugarcoating the Murray Bombers’ last three games — they have been awful.

The bar has been set high at Victoria Park, with the club not playing in finals since 2011.

Coach Andrew Briggs has taken Echuca from rock bottom when he took over in 2014 to a finals contender.

The round 12 win at Memorial Oval against Euroa looked to be a season-defining one, but since then it’s been grim.

Horror movie grim.

At 7-5, the Murray Bombers were destined for the finals and even a close slip-up against Benalla looked to be far from fatal.

But if you lose against bottom sides Mooroopna and Shepparton Swans in consecutive weeks, you probably don’t deserve to be in the top six.

Injuries have struck them at times, but good teams still manage to overcome that and get the job done when going into a game as favourites.

The Murray Bombers will have to reset towards going again next season, with a new coach, but will still have the star power of Simon Buckley, who re-signed for another two years this week.

If Echuca had won those aforementioned games, it would have set up one of the biggest clashes between Echuca and Rochester in years come round 17.

It would have taken the rivalry back to a golden era because it has been mostly one-sided this decade, with the Tigers enjoying a stranglehold on their northern arch-enemy.

Rochester is two games, effectively three when you factor in percentage, clear in sixth.

Flaherty’s side could cause some serious damage comes finals, with a hardened side full of experienced campaigners sure to give younger teams like Euroa, Shepparton and Benalla a scare.

The real interest in the final three rounds will be around who finishes second and third.

There are three teams on 11 wins, battling it out for the double chance opportunity.

It is Shepparton’s to lose, with a dream run home that reads Echuca (tomorrow) before finishing with Shepparton Swans and Mooroopna.

Seymour has held it together in remarkable fashion, despite the Lions losing arguably their three best players, but have to somehow knock off Kyabram on August 19 and host Euroa at Kings Park in the final round.

But with how the GVL finals system works, third is not a bad place to be.

Win your first final and qualify for a double chance, meaning the worst you can do is make a preliminary final.

But the third v sixth game this year will be dangerous, with Rochester potentially waiting in the wings.

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