Huntly coach Stacy Fiske hopes two tough matches to finish the home-and-away season will help his team rediscover its best form ahead of finals.
The Hawks host fellow top-five team North Bendigo in round 17 of the Heathcote District Football League on Saturday, before facing sixth-placed Mount Pleasant in the final round.
Last Saturday, Huntly suffered a shock 21-point loss to Elmore.
Fiske was baffled by his team’s below-par effort – its worst this season.
“That was purely between the ears for the boys. I didn’t see that one coming at all, we haven’t performed like that ever this year,” Fiske said.
“I don’t know if it was just a mindset thing or the blokes are just happy with making the finals and don’t want to go any further – I don’t know.
“Hopefully, it was just a one week thing and we’ll bounce back this week. In three weeks time you don’t want to perform like that (during finals).
“We’ve got North Bendigo (this weekend) so it will be a cracking game. I think the intensity over the next couple of weeks – we’ve got North then we’ve got Mounts (Pleasant) – will be a real good stepping-stone heading into finals.”
Huntly will embark on its first finals campaign since 2001 in either a qualifying final or elimination final on the weekend of August 18 and 19.
The loss to Elmore saw the Hawks fall four points behind Heathcote in the race for a top-three spot.
Fiske said he didn’t think the surprise defeat had anything to do with a tough training session with Army Reserve instructors last week.
Huntly’s footballers and netballers took part in the session, which was organised through the Army Reserve’s partnership with the VCFL.
“The instructor came along and put us through a few drills, a bit of Tabata training, which is sort of 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off,” Fiske said.
“It was a lot of body-to-weight ratio stuff, so you do a lot of push-ups, a lot of squats and a fair bit of burpees and lunges and things like that.
“It was pretty tough and I know a lot of the boys were pretty heavy in the legs the next day from it.”
“It was a good way to get the whole club together and train and, hopefully, keep our fitness up going into finals.”