North Warrnambool Eagles defender Jack Johnstone understands the importance of Saturday's blockbuster Hampden league clash between the Eagles and Portland.
If the Eagles triumph at Bushfield Recreation Reserve they will snatch third from the Tigers thanks to a superior percentage.
If Portland wins they will move two-wins clear of the fourth-placed Eagles and could find themselves equal on points with second-placed South Warrnambool.
Johnstone said the match "should be a good challenge".
"I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"They got on top of us last time, so it should be good to try and bounce back after playing some good footy the last few weeks.
"They're right there, so it'll be a good game to try and jump over the top of them coming in to the last few games of the year."
The two sides last met in round five, with the Tigers prevailing 11.7 (73) to 9.14 (68).
North Warrnambool is fresh off a big win over Hamilton while Portland will be looking to make amends after falling short against Camperdown.
Johnstone believes the Eagles' forward line will play an important role in deciding Saturday's result.
"They were good, they were right on from the start and brought the contest to us," he said.
"So hopefully this time we'll know what to expect and hopefully get on top of them early and try and put them away.
"All over the ground but in our forward line (is where we need to do well).
"We've been improving every game. Hopefully that will keep clicking for us."
20-year-old Johnstone has impressed in his first season of senior football for the Eagles and has featured in eight matches for the side.
He said he was enjoying the step-up in quality and was pleased with where the Eagles sat after 13 rounds.
"I think we're doing well," he said.
"We started off a bit shaky but we're starting to put a few games (together) when we've all got the right mindset of where we want to go.
"We just want to give ourselves the best chance coming up to the finals and we think we can take it out so we'll try our best.
"The grand final's what we really want to make."
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