RECENT Group 20 finals history isn’t on Tullibigeal-Lakes United’s side as the Sharks prepare to take on West Wyalong in Sunday’s qualifying semi-final.
Since 1994 only five teams that finished third on the ladder have gone on to win the first semi-final against the second-placed team.
The Sharks will also have to overcome their most recent form with West Wyalong winning both their games this season, becoming the only team to defeat TLU twice.
To make things worse, the Sharks are looking like heading into the clash at less than full-strength with Jaden Kelly and Michael Dodson unavailable and front rower Trenton King and lock Jock Potter both out through injury.
Despite the losses coach Brent Pike still believes he has the depth in the squad to cover the losses.
“They have been four of our best players all year, so they will be missed, but we have other players that can step up and fill their spots,” he said.
“It would have been good to have (Kelly) and Doddo this weekend, but they both can’t come home and I’m sure it will be an even match either way.”
West Wyalong will be looking to go into the game unchanged from the team that handed the Waratahs a 76-10 defeat on Sunday.
The win was the Mallee Men’s was 10th straight victory this season and the two-time defending premiers haven’t tasted defeat since their round-six loss to the Bidgee Hurricanes.
Despite their winning streak West Wyalong coach Willy Jones is trying to keep the team’s winning streak out of their minds.
“You don’t want to go in too confident as you don’t want to be cocky and finals footy is different – you never know what will happen,” Jones said.
“Everyone lifts their tempo and instead of it being a normal comp game the bar is a lot higher.”
Pike is looking for his team to get back to playing their own game.
“We’ve got to not worry about them, just worry about our own game and try not to get sucked in if anything happens,” he said.
“Our boys are still feeling the loss of last year’s grand final, plus being a local derby will make things interesting. Wyalong is the only side to beat us both times this year so to get one up on them in front of their home crowd in the finals would make it a lot better.”