WFL - The Ararat Rats are brimming with confidence and will be out to record consecutive wins for the first time this season in the penultimate round of the Wimmera Football League.
The Rats take on the Warrack Eagles at Alexandra Oval tomorrow and are looking to continue a late-season run of form which has seen the team win two of its past three matches.
Joint-coach Andrew Louder said Ararat had shaken off a lean period mid-season to produce three impressive performances against Horsham RSL Diggers, Horsham Demons and Nhill.
The on field success has injected new life into the playing group, which Louder hopes will continue this weekend.
"The consistency in the team and the way we've been playing has impressed me the most," he said.
"Our last three weeks have probably been the best we have performed all season, which is good.
"The game plan and structures that we have been working towards all year are starting to come together.
"I still think we've got some work to do on the centre clearances, we could still probably tighten up a bit on that and just make sure we use the ball well and run to space, but David (Hosking) and I are really happy with how the boys have been performing."
Last time the Rats took on the Eagles they were handed a 59-point defeat at Anzac Park.
Since then a number of Rats' players have found form, with Jake Williamson and Aaron Searle leading the charge.
Williamson's first half of the season was marred by injury, but the classy ball winner is back to full fitness and is finishing the year off in impressive fashion.
Louder said Searle's football has gone from strength to strength since establishing himself in the midfield.
"He is a smart footballer and works really hard. I would say since he's gone into the centre he has gotten fitter and has shown improvement," he said.
"Looking back on (the round eight clash with Warrack) we didn't take our chances, especially in the forward line.
"We didn't deliver the ball all that well going forward and we were still probably a little down after getting done by Nhill the week before.
"At the moment we are playing with the type of confidence and self belief that we weren't at the start of the season."
The Rats will need to be mindful of the Eagles' potent forward line, led by veteran Peter Weir who has bagged 42 goals so far this season.
After slotting several early goals in the first round match against Ararat, Weir was then restricted by the ever improving Brady Miller.
Expect Miller to get the first crack at Weir again tomorrow, while Dan Vearing is another defender capable of performing a shutdown role.
A player who may provide some headaches for Louder and Hosking is former Ararat best and fairest winner and now Warrack Eagles' captain Ben Harrison, who was a notable absentee in the first encounter but has since returned from injury and is getting better with every outing.
Louder is hopeful his charges will give a good showing in their last appearance on their home turf for 2013.
"I think it is pretty vital, especially after our last three weeks, that we continue and finish off on a winning note, but having said that whether we win or lose the key thing is that we are competitive," he said.
"That is very important and it will be the same again next week when we play Dimboola who are the top team in the competition.
"Regardless of what time of year it is or our current position on the ladder, we have to approach the last two games like we would have six weeks ago."