Definitely at the pointy end of the season now with just one more round of the home and away season to go. The top three sides are locked in, but the order is still to be decided. We have four teams fighting for the last spot in the top-4 - could defending premiers Cradle Mountain leapfrog the others to keep their streak of top-4 finishes alive, after looking like they might struggle to make the 8 just two weeks ago? Then we have three teams fighting for the last spot in the top-8! - can Lovely Banks hold onto 8th spot for the third time in the last four years? It’s going to be an exciting round coming up! But before we move on, let’s take a closer look at this round's nine games: Venus Bay Vultures 1184 defeated Gundagai Grasshoppers 1171 A genuine blockbuster of 1st vs 2nd ended up being a dire defensive slog, albeit still a very entertaining game, with the home team winning by just 13 points to see Gundagai slip to 3rd on the ladder. There were only six centurions in the game, with the victors led by Jaeger O'Meara with just 106, whilst Gundagai almost had a fantasy saviour in Lachie Neale (123) who was BOG. Unfortunately, Gundagai were let down by six players scoring less than 60. Next week, Venus Bay host the Uglies and will sure up top spot with a win, but a loss could see them drop to 2nd if Gariwerd can win and by enough to jump them. Gundagai cannot fall lower than 3rd, and could move into 2nd if they beat Charlies Opening and Gariwerd lose. Charlies Opening Spelunkers 1117 lost to Nareewillock Nuffers 1142 What was going on here? With Charlies Opening holding the Nuffers first round 2023 PSD pick, surely they wouldn’t let the Nuffers win this one to move off the bottom of the ladder!?! But Nareewillock had nothing to lose and got up in another very close game, with just a 25-point margin. Alas, it seems that better team selection by the Spelunkers could have won them the game, with Curtis playing down back instead of as an emergency, it would have got them the win by 1 point! The king of tanking isn’t doing such a good job of it! Still, not to take anything away from the Nuffers who played well with Ed Richards (126) and Jordan Clark (106) starring down back for them, the former being the epitome of a fantasy saviour in this game. BOG was the Bont (161) for the Spelunkers, and he was well supported by Zerrett (133), but they clearly couldn’t carry the rest of their spelunking mates. Next week, the Nuffers are still a chance to finish last with the two sides below them playing against each other, with all three having a very similar 'points for' for the season so far; whilst Charlies Opening could still finish anywhere from 10th to 13th as they travel to the Grasshoppers' home attempting to continue their woes as they've lost two of their last three. Mount Beauty Uglies 1193 lost to Gariwerd Cockatoos 1308 Gariwerd travel to Mount Beauty in what was 3rd vs 4th, but get the job done relatively easily to move up into 2nd on the ladder, now with the longest active win-streak in the league with six wins on the trot. BOG was Gariwerd's Touk Miller (157), a regular fantasy saviour, however Mount Beauty's Max Gawn (147) wasn’t far behind him. Both teams had three players each who scored 120+! Gariwerd can still finish anywhere from 1st to 3rd, with their final game vs the Packers crucial, but other games very influential too. Mount Beauty hit the road to play top side Venus Bay in one of those games Gariwerd will be watching closely, but the Uglies can only finish in limbo anywhere from 4th to 7th on the ladder so there isn’t much to play for this week for them. Whitsunday Warriors 1133 lost to Lovely Banks Lilacs 1183 Despite having just one centurion in Isaac Heeney (106), Lovely Banks win their second game from the last three to move back into the 8 with one round remaining. It was a 50-point win over Whitsunday who has shown fine form since the mid-season break, and in this game they had four centurions including the BOG Charlie Dixon (136), however they were lacking in fantasy saviours with eight players under 69. Next week, Lovely Banks need to win to ensure they play finals, because 9th (Marble Bar) and 10th (Foul Bay) play each other with either of them a chance to jump the Lilacs. They could finish anywhere from 5th to 10th. Whereas the Warriors are playing for positions 10th to 13th in their game against the Nuffers. Wineglass Bay Packers 1033 lost to Foul Bay Chickens 1118 This was an early finals match in the penultimate round of the season! Both teams knew that a loss would end their finals dreams for 2022. Unfortunately, only one team handled the pressure, and that was the seasoned finals veteran team the Foul Bay Chickens, who turned up for a comfortable win. Only three hundreds in this game, Ben Keays (111) trying his best to be the fantasy saviour for the Packers with BOG honours, and two from Foul Bay - Aish (104) and Snelling (108) - for the win. As mentioned, with this loss, the Packers' season is over, as they now head to Gariwerd to play for positions 10th to 13th; whereas the Chickens keep their finals chances alive, but they must have a big win at home to Marble Bar and hope the Lilacs have a big loss. A loss next week could see them fall as low as 13th. Birdsville Battlers 1364 defeated Wagga Wagga Wombats 1154 A massive change of fortunes for these two teams as Birdsville snap the Wombats' winning streak at eight! And at the same time stop their own losing streak at 7! After starting the season at 2and5 and sitting in 15th position on the ladder, the Wombats have been in smashing form ever since to rise as high as 5th before this loss put them back down to 6th. Whereas it’s been the opposite story for the Battlers who were in the top-8 after round 8, but have fallen down to 14th. There were fantasy saviours aplenty for Birdsville this week with Sam Berry (140) leading the way, and four others scoring 119+! Tom Barrass (132) was the leader for Wagga. Wagga Wagga now host Cradle Mountain and could slip out of the 8 with a loss, whereas a win could put them into the top-4. Out of all top-8 teams, the Wombats are probably most likely to drop out of the 8 due to the inferior 'points for' and their tough opposition next week, but interestingly if they get the win, Cradle Mountain can also drop out of the 8, so it’s a huuge game. Birdsville travel to Lovely Banks but can only finish 14th or 15th no matter what. Marble Bar Misfits 1149 lost to Waikikamoocow Incorrigibles 1413 The highest score of the round goes to Waikikamoocow who are rounding into some good form at the right stage of the season, and now find themselves in the top-4 with one round to play. Unfortunately, the Misfits are dealing with injuries to several of their top players and this loss sees them fall out of the 8, but they remain in striking distance. It would be easy to say that BOG Brad Crouch (147) was the fantasy saviour this game for the Incorrigibles, but a special mention goes to Marble Bar's best Harry Himmelberg (130) who has been killing it since the mid-season break! Next week, Wikikamoocow will be trying to hold onto 4th place when they take on the Dunsborough Dung Beetles who are in good form of late, and a loss could potentially even drop them out of the 8, albeit it would be extremely unlikely given they now hold an 828-point advantage in 'points for' over the 9th placed Marble Bar. However, Marble Bar still hold a real chance to sneak back into the 8 if they can travel to Foul Bay and get the win, because they can easily jump whichever team loses out of Wagga Wagga and Cradle Mountain. Cradle Mountain Devils 1314 defeated Iron Knob Codpieces 1052 Iron Knob's win streak ends at one, equalling their best win streak of the season! Cradle Mountain were too good this week, righting their ship with their second win in a row after losing three of their previous four. Cradle Mountain had sat at 10th on the ladder just two weeks ago but now find themselves in 7th with a chance to finish top-4. Cradle Mountain's return to form can be attributed in part to the return of their fantasy saviour Jack Steele who was BOG this game with 143, whilst Iron Knob has an impressive cast of youngsters but only Jack Sinclair tonned up this game with 117. Next week’s game between Cradle Mountain and Wagga Wagga is massive. If Cradle Mountain lose, they could quite conceivably drop out of the 8. Other results will play a big part in the outcomes, however with a win, they could finish anywhere from 4th to 6th which won’t matter much in the end. Iron Knob are caught in a three-way battle for the wooden spoon (interestingly the other two teams both traded their 2023 1st rounder to Charlies Opening!), and they finish the season with a matchup between 17th and 18th. A loss will lock in the wooden spoon, whereas a win could move them back 1 or 2 draft positions. Dunsborough Dung Beetles 1250 defeated Larrikin Lagoon Lefties 992 Dunsborough have now won two of their last three, as they beat the 13-man Lefties who were the only team to not crack quadruple figures this week. After starting the season 3and3 and full of hope, the Lefties have lost their last ten games in a row and now have the lowest 'points for' in the league this year, which they have held for the past two weeks. If anyone is screaming out for a fantasy saviour, it’s the Lefties, and Noah Anderson (135) tried his best with a BOG performance. Top score for the Dung Beetles was jointly held this game by Tom Atkins and Aliir Aliir, both with 117. The Lefties are currently 17th and play 18th, but there’s no tanking required because they don’t own their first-round draft pick! They can possibly finish anywhere in the bottom three but don’t care. The last game for the Dung Beetles against Waikikamoocow is also just for pride because they can only finish 14th or 15th which is essentially moot. It’s going to be a cracking final round of action next week with every single game playing a big part in determining the final ladder positions.