CONFIDENCE is a wonderful commodity. Just ask Terang Mortlake coach Matthew Irving.
The Bloods, who were seventh with just three wins from their first nine matches, have won six of their past seven and are the frontrunners in a three-way battle to claim the last two spots in the finals today.
The fourth-placed Bloods clash with one of those sides, fifth-placed Camperdown, at Leura Oval with the winner guaranteed a finals berth.
Irving said the reasons for the Bloods’ rapid ascent of the ladder were varied.
“It’s probably a bit of belief,” he said. “Early on we lost those close games and we’ve started to win them.
“If you go through losing close games all seasons your confidence drops away.
“But there has only been one game since the start of the second half of the season that we haven’t looked like winning and that was the Warrnambool game.
“We are not afraid of anyone at the moment and that shows. We are able to take the game on and I think we’ve started to do what we want to do out on the footy field and play the game on our terms.”
The Bloods are used to playing in pressure games.
“It’s very similar to the last five weeks, we are playing where we have to win games,” Irving said.
“Twelve months ago all it was for us was to try and get through because we were out of it and everyone was battling.
“But our reserves really need to win and everyone is pulling in the right direction.”
The uncertainty surrounding the availability of star midfielder Damian O’Connor won’t be a distraction, he said, with the Bloods naming a side without him to avoid unsettling both teams if he completes his work commitments in time to make it to Camperdown.
While the Bloods have confidence, Camperdown coach Dan Casey is hoping the challenge of beating one of the competition’s in-form sides will bring out the best in his players today.
The Magpies have won five of their past six games but Casey is far from over- confident of victory.
“It will be interesting to see which team turns up,” he said.
“If the team who turned up against Hamilton Kangaroos does again I will be confident.
“But if the team that turned up against Port Fairy and South Warrnambool does I won’t be.”
Early in the season the Magpies struggled for consistency from week to week. While their effort against ninth-placed South Warrnambool last week was far from impressive, they have become more consistent in recent weeks.
“I was a bit disappointed the way we played last week but when we play good sides we seem to play at our best.”
Casey said a firm Leura Oval surface would ensure a tough test for the two teams today.
“It’s good for a young group to have something to chase rather than know we are in the finals because we might drop off.”
While both sides can remain in the five with a loss if sixth-placed Portland fails to upset Koroit, the opposing coaches prefer controlling their own destiny.