Princess Park will play host to a tense Goulburn Valley League battle tomorrow when the Shepparton Swans host Euroa.
The Swans are keen to add to their win tally and validate their months of hard work trying to catch the competition’s elite, while the Magpies remain in a race for finals, although swimming against the tide two games back from sixth.
Against Kyabram last weekend, the Swans could not stay with their juggernaut opponent in a 154-point loss, and coach Paul Hawke hoped his troops had seen exactly what was required to ascend the competition’s ranks.
‘‘It was a lesson in skill and teamwork; it’s a big statement, but that was as good ball movement as I’ve seen in the competition in the last 20 to 25 years,’’ he said.
‘‘It was hard to take, but sometimes rather than giving an earful you hope they got an eyeful. Their disposal was spot on, but we gave them too much latitude.’’
Moving forward to Euroa, Hawke hoped his side would enter with positivity, the Magpies just 1 wins in front on the ladder, having struggled at times this year themselves.
‘‘We can’t afford any passengers (tomorrow), we need everyone on board,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s an opportunity to get another win and what we are striving for, not just for our sponsors and supporters, but to give yourself a reward for the hard work that has been done.’’
Meanwhile, multiple flurries from Euroa had it test Echuca’s chin last weekend, but ultimately the Murray Bombers were up to the task in a 43-point win, leaving the Magpies 3-6 for the year.
Coach Scott Rowan saw promising glimpses, but said producing strong football for longer — and every week — would decide if it could close to the two-game gap to the top six.
‘‘I think it was proof we are good enough to match it with top teams if we can keep a full team on the park,’’ he said.
‘‘That belief is starting to be there, but now we just need to start getting enough wins to feature in September.’’
The Magpies will lose Jacob Gleeson with a hamstring strain that might only keep him out of one or two games, while Andrew Bell has departed the club for the foreseeable future, moving to Hong Kong.
‘‘He’s off for work reasons, we always knew he was leaving and it would have been really nice to send him off with a win, but he’s been fantastic for our club,’’ Rowan said.
Bell’s departure means his league-leading streak of 104 consecutive games will come to an end, with Shepparton’s Rowan Hiscock (102 games) taking over first place.