TOP spot beckons for Kaniva-Leeor United when it takes on Border Districts at Goroke on Saturday.
The third-placed Cougars have been in brilliant form, winning their past five matches by an average of 67 points.
The side will face an Eagles side that has struggled since stringing together back-to-back wins last month.
The Eagles have lost their past three outings – against finals contenders Penola, Bordertown and Keith – by an average of more than 20 goals.
A percentage-boosting win could see the Cougars – who are one of five teams deadlocked on 24 points at the top of the table – leap over reigning premier Penola and last year’s minor premier Bordertown.
Cougars coach Neil Reeve said despite the difference between the two sides on the ladder, his team would not get ahead of itself.
“We’re playing at Goroke and they play that oval well – it hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for us in the past,” he said.
“We really can’t go in complacent, we need to be hitting our straps about now.
“This is our most important block of games, so we’ve ticked one box and we’re hoping to tick that second one this week.”
The Cougars will be without Liam Vivian and Damien Hawker, but Reeve said there were a number of players in the club’s reserves capable of filling the void.
Reeve said the match will be won or lost in the midfield.
Goal-kicking on-baller Dylan Williams has enjoyed a stellar year for the Cougars, while Paul Adlington has been among the best in six of the team’s seven games.
For the ninth-placed Eagles, a win is a must if they are to keep their finals hopes alive.
The home side will be looking for star forward Clint Barras, 29 goals, to fire, after he was held to just four goals in his last three outings.
Former SANFL footballers Elijah Ware and Ky Miller will also be pivotal to the Eagles, as will half-back Corey Burr, who has been named in the side’s top two players in every game since round one.
In other matches, Mundulla will look to win at Lucindale to close the gap on the top five, while finals contenders Penola and Keith will clash at Penola.
Padthaway can move up the ladder if it defeats Naracoorte on the road, while either Kybybolite or Kingston will taste victory for the first time in 2014 when they meet on the Tigers’ home turf.