FATE might have had hand in this for the North Ballarat Rebels.
Results fell the Rebels’ way to secure a top-four spot and double chance in the TAC Cup under-18s – a strong recovery after dropping out of the top four a few weeks earlier.
Importantly, the Rebels staked their spot with a two-point comeback win against then-ladder leader Oakleigh Chargers.
Confidence was high. The Rebels knew what was on the line.
Now, they face a star-studded Calder Cannons – a team that beat them by 19 points in Horsham a fortnight ago – for a qualifying final at Visy Park on Saturday.
Up for grabs is a preliminary finals spot.
Rebels coach David Loader said a thrilling win against the Chargers last week set up a great point on which to launch finals.
“The boys are really up and about at training this week,” Loader said.
“There’s no doubt the Cannons will be tough ... we’ll aim to control what we can control out there.
“It’s a wonderful result to finish in the top four and be playing finals.”
The Cannons enter the match on a four-game winning streak, while the Rebels have won 10 of their past 12 games.
They name an almost unchanged line-up with an extended bench to take to Carlton.
Horsham Demons’ Billy Lakin has also been added on the half-back flank.
The Rebels are keen to build on momentum.
In a blockbuster day, the Rebels-Cannons’ showdown will follow a qualifying final between Oakleigh and Geelong.
The Rebels are vying to make western Victoria football proud and are calling on as much support as possible to cheer them on at the ground.
They return to the finals after a year outside the top-eight. In 2012 they reached the TAC Cup preliminary finals.