SIX weeks ago the Bendigo Gold were flying.
Sitting with an 8-4 record, the Gold were percentage away from third place on the VFL ladder and a finals berth looked assured.
Fast forward to tonight’s final round clash with the Box Hill Hawks at the QEO and the situation is not so rosy.
For the Gold the equation is simple - win the game against Box Hill and qualify for the VFL finals.
Lose - and the club faces an axious wait to see if reigning premier Port Melbourne can deny ninth-placed North Ballarat the last spot in the top eight.
Five-straight losses has the Gold gripping to eighth spot by nine per cent from the Roosters.
While it’s most likely that the Gold and Roosters will both lose this weekend and Bendigo will make the eight, coach Hayden Skipworth is desperate to get that winning feeling back.
“We’re chasing a win as hard as we can, so we don’t have to rely on that other result,’’ Skipworth said.
“It would be great to have a win to take some confidence into the finals.
“Ideally, you don’t want to be limping into a finals series on the back of six-straight losses.”
Skipworth said morale around the club remains strong, despite the five-game losing streak.
“We’ve had different guys in and out for a few weeks now for a variety of reasons, so it hasn’t been the same guys losing each week,’’ Skipworth said.
“Everyone is keeping positive and are still keen to learn and improve and get a win on the board.”
Bendigo-listed forward Justin Maddern should return to the side tonight after being a late withdrawl in last week’s loss to Port Melbourne.
“It was a late decision to take Justin out of the side last week,’’ Skipworth said.
“The conditions weren’t great and it was a hard day for big forwards, so we thought we’d be better off taking in a smaller line-up.
“He’s certainly in the mix for this week.”
Skipper Ben Duscher is also a chance to make his long-awaited return from an ankle injury.
Box Hill sits in seventh place on the VFL ladder and, with Hawthorn regaining key personnel, will field its strongest team in some time tonight.
Skipworth is not concerned with who lines up for Box Hill.
“We want to conectrate on ourselves this week,’’ he said.
“We need to get back to the footy we were playing in the middle part of the year.
“We want to get back to that attacking style of footy and take the game on and not be reactive to the opposition.
“The focus will be getting the game on our terms, particularly early on.”
Tonight’s game starts at 7pm.