Swans already in "must-win" territory

Australian football

THE party is well and truly over for the Griffith Swans.

BOOT TO BALL: Jono Gastin drives the Swans forward in the round one loss to Turvey Park.

BOOT TO BALL: Jono Gastin drives the Swans forward in the round one loss to Turvey Park.

After spending the weekend celebrating the past, the club's future has been pulled sharply into focus with coach Brandon Mathews declaring tomorrow's clash with the Wagga Tigers is a must-win.

It's only round three but Mathews believes victory is essential if Griffith is to have any chance of making the Riverina Football League finals this year.

"It's massive, this week," he said.

"I can't really say it to the boys enough how big it's going to be.

"Everyone realises how important it is. If we're going to be any good we've got to be able to go over to Wagga and beat sides.

"It's the biggest game so far for us, especially after letting that first one go."

The Wagga Tigers are considered a likely RFL finals contender, shaping tomorrow's match at Maher Oval as an early opportunity for the Swans to jostle for position.

Griffith will not want to be 1-2 heading into a tough two weeks that follow tomorrow's encounter, with a trip to face premiers Coolamon next weekend and a home clash with in-form Mangoplah-CUE the week after.

Mathews is hopeful his side can ride the momentum from the club's centenary celebrations, which saw the Swans topple Leeton-Whitton by 23 points on Anzac Day before Griffith's team of the century was unveiled the following night.

"I think everyone's up and about a bit so you'd like to think they can take it into the weekend's game, but it could go one of two ways," he said.

"It could be a bit of a letdown and we can't let it be one. 

"If we don't win this weekend it puts us in a pretty average spot.

"We're getting a little bit better each week but we've just got to keep improving and keep doing what we've been working on."

The Tigers had the bye in the first round but fell by eight points to Collingullie-AK on the weekend in their first game of the season.

"They're always pretty handy from what I can gather," Mathews said.

Griffith will be without team of the century inductee Mick Duncan tomorrow but Mathews said he has pulled up better than expected after suffering a quad injury against the Crows.

The veteran on-baller has had few soft tissue injuries throughout his illustrious RFL career and it his hoped he will be right to return for the Coolamon and Mangoplah games.

"It was looking like he was going to be out for a while but it's improved a fair bit over the last couple of days," Mathews said.

"We're hoping that it's not too bad. He's definitely going to miss one, there's no doubt about that, but whether it improves enough to play the following week we'll have to wait and see."

With Che Jenkins also under an injury cloud, Mathews is not afraid to resort to his reserves should he need to. 

Griffith's twos were comfortable 104-point winners over Leeton-Whitton and there are several players with first-grade experience building up form and biding their time.

"Nobody's just walking in, getting a game. It's a good spot to be in," Mathews said.

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