A spot in the Kyabram District Football League grand final is seemingly Stanhope’s to lose.
The Lions have lost only to Tallygaroopna this season and are the side most likely possessing the ability to upset the Redlegs in the decider.
Stanhope had a good crack at Tallygaroopna in last week’s semi-final, but could never break away from the top side in the competition which awaits either the Lions or Nagambie.
Stanhope starts heavy favourite and defeated Nagambie by 44 points in round four, although the reigning premier missed Mick Roberts and Mick Shiels among others.
While the Lakers will have a full complement of players and their stars are all in exceptional form, Stanhope coach Troy Auld said Saturday would be an entirely different game.
‘‘Both sides will have some key personnel in the line up on Saturday that didn’t play in the round four encounter,’’ Auld said.
‘‘We won, but we have watched them the past fortnight, so we will be in a reasonable position to plan for the players they will take in on Saturday.’’
But the Lions will wait on the fitness of co-coach Rob Montgomery and crafty forward Josh Evans, while Cobey Aynsley’s season is over after being stretchered off in the third quarter on Saturday.
‘‘Cobey suffered multiple injuries to the knee including an ACL and PCL tear which is stiff luck, but he will turn his focus to his assistant coaching role now,’’Auld said.
Stanhope is the natural progression into the grand final as a result of its year and showed last week it can contest against Kevin O’Donoghue’s men if it has the chance.
But with one more step to go before they reach that opportunity, the Lions will be hoping to recreate their most recent final against Nagambie when Stanhope saluted by 26 points in the 2015 preliminary final.
‘‘I think everyone has some sense of expectation attached to them at this time of year and at the start of the season we aimed to win as many games as we could to see where it took us,’’ Auld said.
‘‘A spot in a preliminary final is the land of opportunity, so we will do our best to grab it with both hands on Saturday to advance to the grand final.’’
PRELIMINARY FINAL SCHEDULE
Saturday at Lancaster Recreation Reserve
Under-17s: Murchison-Toolamba v Lancaster at 10.15am.
Reserves: Nagambie v Girgarre at 12.05pm.
Seniors: Stanhope v Nagambie at 2.05pm.
Under-15s: Nagambie v Girgarre at 9.15am.
Under-17s: Tallygaroopna v Nagambie at 10.55am.
C-grade: Tallygaroopna v Dookie United at 11.45am.
B-grade: Tallygaroopna v Nagambie at 1pm.
A-grade: Stanhope v Tallygaroopna at 2 .15pm.