Last year’s grand final defeat was painful for Edenhope-Apsley, but a straight-sets exit from the finals this season would be even worse.
That is what the Saints are hoping to avoid on Sunday when they take on Swifts in a cut-throat semi-final at Quantong Recreation Reserve.
After a hot start to the season, which included a four-point win over the Kees in the opening round, Edenhope-Apsley has struggled to maintain winning form.
Things did not get any better in the weekend’s qualifying final against Laharum either, with the Saints outclassed from start to finish in a 21-point loss.
Meanwhile, Swifts are playing a role that is all too familiar to them.
The Baggies have been the giant-killers of the past two finals series and, with a confidence-boosting win over Harrow-Balmoral under their belts, are hoping their momentum will carry them to a third consecutive preliminary final.
Swifts co-coach Paul Hanns said his side would draw on its round 11 win over the Saints on Sunday. “Our defensive pressure on them in that game was probably the best it had been all year,” he said.
“That caused a lot of turnovers and we think that’s an area where they’re definitely vulnerable.”
Tom Ruggles was required to play for Werribee in the VFL at the weekend but should return to boost the Baggies, while Ben Fox will also return from work commitments.
Edenhope-Apsley co-coach James Dixon said the prospect of a straight-sets finals exit was not on the minds of the players.
He said the Saints would focus on playing their own brand of football like every other week.
“They’re a quick-moving side and they won’t be easy to beat, that’s for sure,” he said.
“They’re unpredictable and if you let them get on top of you, they’ll dominate you, but if you put pressure back on them they sometimes don’t respond well to it.”
Matt Close will be excluded with a shoulder injury, but Dixon said the team had not yet decided who would replace him.