SOUTH Warrnambool would be assured a finals berth if the race for fifth spot came down to percentage.
The Roosters currently occupy the coveted position and have a superior percentage (125.21) to their nearest rival Hamilton Kangaroos (85.20).
Both sides are locked on 32 points with two Hampden league rounds remaining.
And both play finals-bound opponents on the run home.
South Warrnambool hosts Warrnambool (third) on Saturday and plays North Warrnambool Eagles (first) on their home deck in the final round. Hamilton Kangaroos host the Eagles on Saturday and travel to Port Fairy (fourth) in round 18.
South Warrnambool leadership group member Harry Lee and Hamilton Kangaroos vice captain Brady Hicks say their respective sides are embracing the challenge.
Hicks said the Kangaroos' destiny was "in our own hands".
"It is a very good feeling because we haven't been this close to making finals since we joined the Hampden league (in 2013)," he said.
"Everyone is positive and knows we're capable of doing it but a couple of games we dropped early on in the season have come back to bite us a little bit.
"We've given ourselves a pretty good shot but coming up against North and Port Fairy the last two games leaves us fairly vulnerable.
"In saying that, South follows us in the draw so they have Warrnambool and North to finish on."
Hicks said the Kangaroos wanted to defy the odds and jump over the Roosters.
"Ideally we'd like to win two but realistically we'll try and win one," he said.
"Unfortunately we have to rely on South not winning. It's not a great position to be in but it's how it's ended up.
"They have a fair old percentage on us too, so we'd have to rely on the points rather than percentage now."
South Warrnambool has lost seven of its past nine games. But Lee believes the Roosters are capable of beating top-five sides.
"Both games we lost to Warrnambool and North, we reckon we lost the game. It was under a goal in it both games," he said.
"We know we can match it with them. We are looking at Warrnambool this week to try and take a scalp and show everyone 'hang on, they're still a team to watch out for when it comes to September'."
Lee said the race for fifth was a positive for the league.
"It shows it is a pretty good competition having fifth and sixth battle out for that position coming up to the last two rounds and if it comes down to percentage, it shows there's a couple of teams on the rise as well," he said.
Both Lee and Hicks said lapses had cost their sides wins in 2019.
Lee said it was a recent problem for the Roosters while Hicks said it was a problem the Kangaroos had worked hard to overcome.
"It's not like we haven't been in the games, we've just had lapses where we've fallen out of games and that is what has hurt us," Lee said.
"We just need to put a four-quarter performance in and we'll be fine.
"We're still a pretty young side and having only a few older leaders who have been in this situation, if gets tough in that spot people have lapses and can't stay in the game as long.
"It is nothing serious, nothing big or worrying."
Hicks said the Kangaroos' evolution was a sign of their maturity.
"At the start of the season, it was 10-minute lapses in a quarter where other teams would pile on four or five goals and that would be the margin at the end of the day," he said.
"(We had to) maintain focus for the whole game and that's what we were able to do to win five on the trot.
"You're going to have little lapses but you've got to get on top of them as quick as you can.
"What we've been able to do when another team gets a bit of a run on is hold them up and get things back on our terms after two or three minutes rather than 10 minutes."
South Warrnambool and Hamilton Kangaroos have both exposed teenagers to senior football over the past few seasons.
Lee said it bode well for the Roosters' future.
"You've got the two Herbert brothers - Marcus and Liam - and they both played tremendously (on the weekend) and you've also got Archie Stevens, who believe it or not is only 15 and he's out there playing like he's played 100 games," he said.
"Those players show what we've got coming up and give us a pretty good look into the future which is really exciting I feel."
Hicks said the Kangaroos were just as bullish about their joeys.
He said Rory Gill, Jack English and Harry Waters were leading the charge.
"Some weren't even playing under 18s, they were coming straight into seniors," he said.
"Now they have 20 to 40 games under their belts, they're a lot more comfortable."
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