CHFL: closest finals race in years

WITH more than 10 seasons under his belt at senior level, Buninyong coach Jarrod Morgan knows the Central Highlands Football League like the back of his hand.

Daylesford coach Joel Adams and his boys beat Waubra on Saturday, showing the tightness of the Central Highlands Football League premiership race.

Daylesford coach Joel Adams and his boys beat Waubra on Saturday, showing the tightness of the Central Highlands Football League premiership race.

And his thoughts on the openness of this year’s premiership race are sure to reflect those of the majority.

“It’s the closest I reckon the league has ever been since I’ve been part of it,” Morgan said following his team’s 16-point loss to Gordon on Saturday.

“Daylesford showed (on Saturday by beating Waubra) that nearly any team can do it on the day.”

As another finals series descends upon us, it’s hard to mount a case for any of the top-eight sides not being able to lift the cup on September 13.

The top four of Bungaree, Gordon, Hepburn and Waubra are best placed for a tilt at the flag – securing double chances and the potential of a week off should things go to plan in the qualifying final – but the winning chances certainly don’t end there.

Despite missing the four on percentage with defeats in the last two rounds of the year, Buninyong has beaten three of those teams above it on the ladder and has the experience of back-to-back grand finals to draw upon.

Touted by many, including this journalist, as a top-four hope at the start of the campaign, Springbank has been frustratingly inconsistent as the year has progressed. But should things click, the Tigers certainly have the ability to beat any side in the competition.

Learmonth has slipped away after going the opening seven rounds undefeated, but wins over Waubra and Daylesford and a narrow defeat from Buninyong is certainly good formlines heading into a breakthrough finals series.

That leaves the Bulldogs. While it certainly doesn’t seem the Daylesford of old, a win over the Roos – when there was plenty on the line – at the weekend shows the spa country giant can’t be discounted when the whips start cracking.

Perhaps the coach of the minor premiers, Bungaree’s Greg Middleton, sums things up best.

“Any team in the top eight on their day can beat one another, it’s just that tight,” he said on Saturday.

tim.ocnonnor@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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