Despite a small five-point loss at the hands of Bermagui on Saturday, the Merimbula Diggers senior Aussie rules squad is comfortably in second.
The Diggers were defeated by the Bermagui Breakers 17.3 (105) to 15.10 (100).
Diggers president Chris Hawkins said it was a very tight game, and was good to have the team back on the field after a three-week break.
“We haven’t played in three weeks so that makes a bit of a difference,” Hawkins said.
The game could have been altered by a single goal and Hawkins said he was eager to see the rematch this weekend.
For Saturday’s rematch, the Diggers are expecting the return of a handful of key players.
“We have about six players back this weekend, so hopefully we’ll be at full-strength.
“Quite a few of them are key players,” he said.
Apart from the Pambula Panthers’ record setting undefeated season, the SCAFL competition has seen strong showings from every club in the league.
“Yeah it definitely is [a more level playing field], you can’t pick who is going to beat who really, apart from the Panthers going undefeated,” Hawkins said.
Whichever way the cookie crumbles, the Diggers will have a second chance in their finals campaign, but Hawkins hoped they didn’t need it.
“We have the double chance which makes it a lot better, you like to think you don’t have to use it, but it is there to fall back on,” he said.
The Diggers have not stepped up their training, but are putting more focus on skills development.
“You can’t put more fitness into them now, we put a bit more energy in to the skills and that sort of thing.”
The winner of the Diggers/Breakers clash will advance to take on the first-placed Panthers in a preliminary final.
The Diggers are keen to step up and win the premiership flag, but Hawkins said the club wasn’t getting ahead of itself.
“We have to get over Bermagui this weekend first, we’re just taking it week in, week out.”
Local fans will have to travel as the match will go ahead at the Bermagui ground from about 2pm.
“You always like to play on your home ground or a bigger ground, but we will play them up there and have no excuses, we just gotta beat them.”
It isn’t just the senior squad making the cut, either, with the development, under 16s and under 13s all reaching the finals in good form.
“We finished on top in the development grade, our under 16s finished second and the under 13s finished on top,” Hawkins said.
“It has been a very consistent year right around the whole club, it is great both on, and off, the field.
“There would be nothing better than to win all four [premierships], that is very optimistic, but every club wants to win them all.”
And for the Diggers, it won’t be any individual efforts winning the day.
“You just want to have a four-quarter performance from the whole team, that’s all you can ask for,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Pambula Panthers have a week off for the first round of the finals and will also have a second chance card, should they need it.
The main game will play at Dickinson Oval, Bermagui on Saturday from 2pm.