ALL eyes will be on Blue Lake Sports Park tomorrow when North and West Gambier lock horns in a heavyweight second semi-final showdown.
The equation is simple, win the game and secure the early grand final berth, lose and face the winner of Sunday’s East Gambier v Casterton Sandford match in next week’s preliminary final.
Little has separated the Tigers and the Roos this season and while the latter has the jump on its opponent with two out of three wins, North has reached new heights in recent weeks and will carry momentum into the clash.
The Tigers have won their last four games, along the way defeating all three of its finals contenders, including a nine-point victory over West in their round 14 encounter in wet conditions.
The Roos on the other hand did not have the ideal end to the minor round and are still licking the wound of last week’s one-point loss to the Bulldogs in the Call to Arms Cup.
However, there is no denying tomorrow’s semi-final will be a tough encounter and whichever way the hammer falls, a close margin can be expected.
Of their three meetings in the home-and-away season, each game was decided by less than 20 points.
A similar result is likely tomorrow and spectators are in for a treat.
The Tigers have welcomed back a flood of players over the last few weeks and their injury concerns now seem under check.
Dylan Munn has been in blinding form and will provide headaches through the midfield and down the wing.
Aided by the likes of Brett Shepherdson, Michael Telford and Nick McInerney there will be no questioning the Tigers’ work rate, with each of those players putting in 100pc week in, week out.
The backline will be a tight unit, with Mayson Ashby, Tim McInerney and Jordan Hollitt all carrying form, while up forward another dangerous trio will be at work.
Jake Stafford made his return to the ground last Saturday from a hamstring injury and had an instant impact through the middle, as well as booting the first two majors of the game on his way to a four-goal performance.
Matt McInerney also slotted back into the team to match Stafford’s total, while Sam Stafford was the third prong of the trident, chipping in with three.
If that combination is not daunting enough, they should be joined by powerhouse forward and coach Justin McConnell this week.
He has rested himself in recent weeks due to a lingering calf issue, but can be expected to kit up tomorrow and provide another goal-kicking option.
On paper the minor premiers appear hard to beat, but West has its own pool of talent to draw from.
Tom Zeitz was in impressive form last round and rightly received the Phil Muhovics medal for best-on-ground in the Call to Arms Cup.
He will be looked to again, while brother Sam also had a strong outing against the Bulldogs with three timely goals to keep the Roos in the fight.
Dwayne Phillips and Jordan Williams are in hot form and have some solid performances under their belts, while Ben Papps has had a couple of quiet games by his standard, but if given the chance could kick a bag.
Garret Ha and Tom Holmes are also capable of having an impact, whether in front of goal or through the centre.
And of course there is Lawry Bradley-Brown, who can never be looked past for his high work rate all over the ground.
In the ruck Todd Lewis will match up on Brett Kennedy in the classic battle of The Border Watch.
Lewis has also pushed forward on occasion this year and it would not be surprising for him to make a mark on the scoreboard.
It all points towards a difficult decision for tipsters and tomorrow’s result will likely come down to which team turns up on the day.