The evenness of the Hampden league will again be highlighted as battles for ladder positions begin to become more frequent.
This Saturday will see four games capable of shaping how the table could look heading towards the mid-way point of the season.
The first of those critical battles is Portland and Terang Mortlake.
The Tigers sit in fifth place with the Bloods, who will travel to Hanlon Park, hot on their heels in sixth.
A win to the Bloods would bring them level with the Tigers, but a loss could see a gap open up between the two sides and allow Cobden to edge closer.
The Bombers host a winless Hamilton Kangaroos brimming with confidence.
If Cobden was to win and Terang Mortlake defeated Portland it would bring the competition closer yet again.
But if the Bloods win and the Bombers lose, a gulf will open between sixth and seventh place and put Cobden’s season on the ropes.
Terang Mortlake coach Michael Sargeant said the trip to Hanlon Park would be a test for his side.
“Every game is critical and this is a big challenge to go down to Portland,” Sargeant said. “We have done a bit of travelling lately after going to Hamilton last weekend. It’s good to get away but hopefully we can put in a good performance this week.”
Bombers mentor Levi Dare believes this game is critical for Cobden’s season.
“We can’t afford to lose this week. If we win we split the ledger going into the last game, which is Camperdown, before the half-way point, which would set us up alright and puts us in contention for the second half of the year,” Dare said.
“But if we lose we drop a fair way back and because of the closeness of the competition it could be the game that costs us in the long run and in making finals.”
Towards the top of the ladder Port Fairy and Camperdown will battle at Gardens Oval for second spot.
“It’s a huge task (going to Gardens) and it’s similar to taking on Koroit at Koroit, they are right up there in that top tier and we want to be able to put our name up there with a good performance,” Magpies coach Phil Carse said.
South Warrnambool has a chance to bridge the gap to third if it can overcome an improving North Warrnambool Eagles at Bushfield.
But if the Roosters lose and the Tigers triumph, they could leap-frog South into fourth.
Mat Buck said the Roosters would be focused on perfecting their game.
“It’s a tough year where you have to turn up to play every week,” the third-year coach said.
“This will be a big weekend for us, but we want to control want we can control and play a professional brand of football.”