FEW would have predicted it at the start of the year, but Sunbury could find itself in the top three if it beats Lake Wendouree on Saturday.
A heavy win could see the Eastern Lions back at home at the pointy end of the ladder, a position even coach Rick Horwood said at the start of the season he did not expect to find himself in.
Sunbury might not have had the toughest draw to date, but a 6-2 win-loss ratio on the horizon would still be a huge testament to the youth that has kept the Lions strong.
But with Ballarat and North Ballarat City awaiting after this week, it is crucial they start the string of difficult matches in strong fashion.
For Lake Wendouree, this week will signal the return of key players, with the backline in particular to be bolstered.
Key position player Tom Carey comes back after a few weeks with North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL, while coach Gavin Webb will also return to the fold after recovering from a shoulder injury.
Lincoln Barnes also comes back into the side after being unavailable last week, while Eamonn McCuskey also returns from shoulder injury.
And in keeping with the theme of shoulders at the Lakers, Andrew Pitson will miss with a sore shoulder of his own.
Jordan Payne will also be on the sidelines with concussion, while Nick Aringo is again battling injury.
Ruckman Matthew Tuminello will also play his 50th game for the club.
“It’s probably an eight-point game for us,” Webb said.
“Sunbury have surprised a few teams so far this season, so no doubt they will be tough to come up against.”
The Lakers have dropped their last three matches, going down in each match mainly due to one poor quarter of football.
“We just have to start getting some reward for our effort,” Webb said.
“It always just seems to be one quarter that lets us down so we have to rectify that.”
PREDICTION: Lakers to get back on the winners’ list.