In my eyes, it's probably our biggest one (game) this year so far I reckon. It'll be good, a good challenge. It's a big day for Merrivale.- Jack Neave
Merrivale forward Jack Neave understands the gravity of his side's top-three clash with Russells Creek on Saturday.
The Tigers sit third on the Warrnambool and District league ladder, equal on points with the fourth-placed Creekers, with two rounds remaining.
A win to either side would almost certainly guarantee it a third-place finish, with only one round remaining after Saturday.
"In my eyes, it's probably our biggest one (game) this year so far I reckon," Neave told The Standard.
"It'll be good, a good challenge.
"It's a big day for Merrivale."
The two sides met earlier in the season, in a round eight thriller at Mack Oval.
The Creekers triumphed that day by eight-points after the Tigers led 42-15 at half-time.
Neave knows it was one that got away from the Tigers.
"It was probably a game that we should have won," he said.
"We sort of just let go in the second half.
"We got ourselves in a pretty good position and just let them back in the game."
Neave himself is enjoying a productive few weeks after returning from a six-week hamstring injury in round 14.
The small forward has booted seven goals across the last three rounds.
"The injury was a bit of a bummer, I was playing pretty good footy," Neave said.
"It's good to be back with all the boys and I'm playing pretty consistent which is probably the main thing.
"(I'm feeling) real good now. Probably better than what I was before to be honest with you. I Just did a bit of strengthening with my hamstring."
Merrivale is fresh off a 149-point win over Dennington while Russells Creek arrested a three-game losing streak in round 16 with a 117-point victory over Allansford.
Both sides have endured dips in form this season but Neave has faith his side is hitting its straps at the right time.
"I think we've found a sweet spot as a group," he said.
"I think we've gelled a lot better over the last month than probably anywhere else in the season which is a big bonus coming into finals."
The Tigers may be without star ruckman Manny Sandow for the contest due to injury. Merrivale coach Josh Sobey said late Thursday night that the big man was "highly doubtful" to play.
Following Saturday's matches, the Tigers finish their regular season against South Rovers whereas Russells Creek take on Dennington.
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