MDFL - After 17 matches it all comes down to tomorrow's clash with Moyston/Willaura if SM&W Rovers wishes to keep its season alive.
The Bulldogs are sitting equal sixth on the ladder with Hawkesdale/Macarthur, two points shy of Penshurst in fifth position.
In order to see September action SM&W Rovers must beat the Pumas fairly comfortably and hope the Bombers and Southern Eagles have bad days out.
Coach Rhys Cahir is taking a positive approach into this weekend's final round.
"I am certainly optimistic, that's the only way you can be," he said.
"We've just got to win, that's about it and hopefully the other results will fall our way.
"Hopefully we can win by whatever we need to make up the percentage on Penshurst and Hawkesdale. It might be hard considering Hawkesdale have an easier game (against lowly Caramut), but anything can happen, if it is wet it might keep their scores down."
The Bulldogs looked likely to wrap up the final spot in the top five a fortnight ago after defeating Penshurst, however an upset victory over Moyston/Willaura and a draw against Glenthompson/Dunkeld has skyrocketed Hawkesdale/Macarthur back into contention.
SM&W Rovers faced the Pumas in late June, going down by 57 points in a high scoring affair, and Cahir said he took plenty away from the match.
"The main thing was don't give them a chance because they will hurt you," he said.
"We were on the back foot for a lot of the match and they kicked a couple of bags of goals in two quarters which really got them going.
"I just need a four quarter effort from all 21 players. They are a big, strong side, but we were able to match and take it up to them in the final quarter last time."
The Bulldogs will need the likes of Ricky Coyle, Nic Byrne and Alexander McCarthy to negate Moyston/Willaura's ball winners including Matt Peel, Luke Thomas and Josh Bywater.
Wickliffe/Lake Bolac will fine tune its finals preparations at home against Penshurst tomorrow.
The Magpies will be looking to make a statement to the rest of the competition on the eve of finals with a solid win against last year's premiers.
This match looks likely to be a changing of the guard This time 12 months ago the Bombers were an unstoppable force, now it is the Magpies who have complete control of the competition.
The 2011 Lewis Medal winner Brad Keilar has had his best season since winning the league's top player award and has had plenty of support around him coming from Michael Otto, Tom Gibson and Chris Hilet.
If Penshurst is any chance of causing a major boil over and hanging on to fifth position it must have guns Justin Eales, Rory Neeson and James Delahunty firing.
Tatyoon could be the dark horse of this finals' series and the Hawks will have an injection of confidence when it faces a struggling Ararat Eagles' outfit.
The Hawks have strength across the board, with Anthony Brady and Andrew Laidlaw rock solid in defence, while Aidan Bell is leading the way in front of goals with 64 for the season thus far.
In complete contrast the Eagles have had a year to forget and will farewell season 2013 with another big loss.
James Dalkin, coach Nathan Wemyss and Tom Taurau have been three shining lights for the Eagles, but the team has plenty of gaps to fill across the park if it is to show improvement next season.
The curtain falls for Great Western tomorrow when it clashes with Lismore/Derrinallum in the final home and away match.
In their second season back after disbanding, the Lions will be looking to go out on a high with win number seven, which would be a huge turnaround on 2012.
Back in round one, these two teams played out a thriller, with the Demons getting over the line by three points.
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With both teams out of finals contention expect another fierce clash tomorrow with pride on the line.
While they will be desperate for a win, it will take a big effort from what is a weary and injury ravaged Lions' team.
Great Western's injury list continued to grow in last week's clash against Penshurst.
Key defender Bobbie Garley will miss tomorrow's match with a fractured wrist, while BJ Burton remains in doubt with an ongoing achilles injury.
Josh McCartney will miss due to work commitments and Matt Bourke is also unavailable.
Lachie Malloy and Nick McCartney have had top seasons and will finish off strongly.
In the final two matches of round 18 a top five finish is Hawkesdale/Macarthur's for the taking if it can get the job done against Caramut, while Glenthompson/Dunkeld will have no trouble disposing of Woorndoo/Mortlake.
Caramut v Hawkesdale/Macarthur (at Caramut): Adrian Pieters and Tommy Cooper
Woorndoo/Mortlake v Glenthompson/Dunkeld (Woorndoo): Leo Mooney and Paul Dalziel (car)