RESTING a handful of his best players in the last round of the home and away season is starting to reap dividends, according to Sunbury coach Rick Horwood.
The reigning premier was a shadow of its normal self two weeks ago in the last game of the home and away season, going down to North Ballarat City by 94 points.
The Eastern Lions made seven sweeping changes last week in the side that defeated Ballarat and established the crucial double chance in the finals.
Now, with the exception of key midfielder Andrew Duhau, Sunbury will field as close to a full strength side as it has all year as it plays for a spot in the Ballarat Football League grand final against old rivals Redan.
"It's always nice to take a gamble and cop a bit of heat during the week and to come out and get the win," Horwood said.
"We could've had egg on our face. Wardy (Goldfields CEO Rod Ward) joked about how we were the Melbourne tankers of the Ballarat Football League and had a bit of fun with it. But in the end you do the right thing by your team and that's what we did."
Sunbury will be looking to stretch its unbeaten streak against Redan to six matches at Eastern Oval on Saturday.
Redan has not beaten their arch rivals since the 2011 grand final, with their most recent meeting three weeks ago finishing in a breathtaking draw.
However coach Eammon Gill said the string of winless games was not a factor at all.
Gill conceded his side was physically smaller than the reigning premiers, but would definitely not shy away from any contests.
"There's not many of our players that would stand taller than their direct opponent, but it is what it is," Gill said.
"We can't pull in another six foot ruckman, it's not as Nick Bye is coming back this year.They are a big side and they are well and truly bigger than us."
Instrumental in their surprise demolition of North Ballarat City last week, Gill said his side's younger players had taken monumental leaps forward of late.
Of the bigger names this week, Jarrett Giampaolo will most likely miss with an ankle injury, although Dean Chester will come back in.
"To be honest, some of them have even surprised us, we knew they were talented footballers," he said.
"Some of them have come out of the under-18s and played some really good senior footy."
And that is something opposing coach Horwood is more than aware of.
"We've got to be very careful of a lot of their young guys because the game I watched on the weekend, they were very good," he said.
The winner of Saturday's match at Eastern Oval will advance to the grand final in two week's time, with the loser to play the victor out of the North Ballarat City v Darley clash.