THERE wouldn’t have been too many kind words said about Beaufort at Burraland this year.
But that all changed on Saturday as the Crows’ heroics all but guaranteed Hepburn a double chance in the Central Highlands Football League finals series.
The two teams were involved in an infamous on-field brawl that saw the round two encounter abandoned early in the final term and an ensuing war of words take place through the media in the coming days.
But Hepburn was singing the praise of the Crows at the weekend as word filtered through of their stunning upset win over Buninyong.
The six-point victory – secured thanks to an after-the-siren goal by former Carlton star Glenn Manton – means Hepburn only has to win its final-round clash with Dunnstown to clinch a spot inside the top four.
Beaufort’s triumph over Buninyong means the Bombers have slipped to fourth and can now be ousted from that position if they go down to Gordon in the round 17 blockbuster.
Assuming Waubra beats Daylesford – which is much tougher than ladder positions and current form may suggest – and the Burras do roll the lowly Towners, the loser of the Eagles/Bombers encounter will miss out on the prized second
chance in finals
The Roos can also open themselves up to dropping to fifth with a loss to the Bulldogs.
And as we have seen in the three years since the top eight finals system was introduced in 2011, finishing inside this bracket is important.
No team has won the premiership from outside fourth. A double chance and a week off by winning a qualifying final has proven a recipe for success.
Hepburn may well have reached this goal following its classy victory over Bungaree on Saturday, but Beaufort’s upset has made it a near certainty.
Spare a thought for the Bombers, whose defeat is a cruel blow after working so hard to win big games against Bungaree and Hepburn in the last month only to slip up to the most unlikely of opponents.
But fate remains in their own hands – knowing a win on Saturday will mean all is forgiven and a top-four spot is secure.
Bungaree’s defeat hasn’t proven too costly, with the Demons able to claim the minor premiership with victory over Beaufort next weekend.
While teams that will play finals in 2014 are already known, there is still plenty of jostling
for positions that can take place in the last home and away round.
In the bottom part of the eight, Springbank and Learmonth will play one another in an elimination final if results fall as expected, while Daylesford is left to take on whoever slides out of the top four and into fifth place in the other knockout clash.