The final six rounds of the Wimmera Hockey Association season promises to be intriguing, as teams battle for a spot in the finals.
In the Open, Women’s and Under 16 competitions, most teams remain in the hunt for a place in the finals.
The top of the Open division ladder has a similar look to the past five seasons, with the Yanac Tigers undefeated closely followed by the Warrack Hoops and Kaniva Cobras. Either of these latter two teams will need to win four more games than the Tigers to overtake them for top spot.
The fight for second place will come down to the round 13 clash between the Hoops and Cobras to decide the important second chance, and with the two games between these teams split at one win each, second place is still up in the air.
Most interest will centre upon who will claim the last place in the semi-finals. The Dimboola Burras have spent much of the season so far in fourth place, but the Horsham Hurricanes did displace them for a couple of weeks mid-season.
Even the currently sixth-placed Nhill Rangers have shown some good form when they can get their best team on the field, so they are also still in the mix for the finals. It will only take one or two surprise results to change the finishing order.
The game between the Burras and the Hurricanes this week will have a significant influence on the finishing order.
With only one loss, the Dimboola Roos appear destined to go into the finals in the number one position, although they meet their only serious challenger this week when they play the Horsham Jets. A win to the Jets would see them draw equal with the Roos but they would still have an inferior goal difference.
The Kaniva Women still need to win a couple of their remaining six games to confirm a place in the finals, but their schedule should allow them to do this and qualify for a rare appearance in the final four.
Yanac, the 2014 and 2015 premiers, should be able to win enough games to earn the opportunity to remain in the hunt for another grand final berth, but their clash with the Nhill Thunderbirds in round 11 could define their season. The Thunderbirds are currently in fifth place but are close enough to fourth to be a challenger for a place in the finals if they can finish ahead in enough of the close games.
The Warrack Women will need to break through for their first win of the season when they play the Thunderbirds this week if they are to keep alive their chances of rising from the bottom of the ladder.
Recent form suggests that the teams that will play off in the semi- finals have already been decided, with too many upsets needed for either the Yanac Warriors or Horsham Bombers to gain the minimum of 10 points they would require to break into the top four.
Interest still remains in what order the top four will finish.
The Nhill Leopards and Warrack Revengers, currently the leading two teams on the ladder, both suffered losses in the round before the bye which has reduced the gap between first and fourth to only 10 points. Dimboola Kangaroos and Kaniva Raiders have shown sufficient recent form to suggest that they could easily move up.