IF form is anything to go by, tomorrow’s must-win first semi-final will be close.
Both Cobden and North Warrnambool Eagles enter the match with nine wins from their past 11 games. The Eagles most recent defeat was to Cobden in round 14, while Cobden is coming off a nine-point loss to Warrnambool last Saturday — its first since round 11.
But the Bombers have won both matches against the Eagles this season, the first by 61 points in round five and the second in round 14 by 23 points.
Cobden coach Wayne Robertson said his Bombers were upbeat.
“I know we lost the game (last week) but I think we bring a really good form line,” he said. “We’ve lost one game in nine weeks. By no means are we panicking.
“We feel if we bring the intensity and style of footy we played last week, we have to sustain that for four quarters, then we will give ourselves a good chance.”
One of the Bombers’ keys this season has been their ability to restrict opponents while scoring well themselves. They have done that both times against the Eagles, managing 31 and 33 scoring shots, conceding 22 and 18.
“We haven’t had big scores kicked against us. It’s not too often you keep Warrnambool to 10 goals and lose a game,” Robertson said.
Robertson isn’t one for omens. The side that has won the elimination final in week one of the series has been beaten the following week five times in the past six years. The exception was the Eagles last year.
Haynes said his side didn’t have any psychological scars from losing its past five Cobden encounters, including last year’s preliminary final.
“We have played pretty ordinary footy both times we have played them this year,” he said.
“They’ve been able to shut us down and play well. You have your off day against any side. We just happen to have it against Cobden.
“We are going in as underdog given the history but we are definitely confident.
“We are playing good footy and we know we can match it with any of the sides.”
Haynes said the key to his side’s chances hinged on having 21 contributors.
“If you get that you are not going to lose too many. It’s going to be a crackerjack game of footy.”
Haynes, who delayed finalising his side after naming 25 on Thursday night, said the Eagles were comfortable playing at Koroit tomorrow.
“It’s probably advantageous to us. We played at Koroit last week and we got a really good look around and know how to play it.”