LEETON-Whitton ensured Coolamon will need an ounce of luck to fall their way to play finals after downing the Hoppers by seven points on Sunday.
The Crows rounded off their preparation for finals with a hard-fought victory, 9.14 (68) to 9.7 (61) at Kindra Park.
The scores were level at three-quarter-time in an error-riddled contest, but it was the Crows who lifted most in final quarter to get over the line.
The loss drops Coolamon outside the top five with just one round remaining, but not all is lost for the Hoppers.
Fifth-placed Wagga Tigers sit two points in front of Coolamon and will need to defeat ladder leaders Collingullie-Glenfield Park next Saturday to cement fifth place.
If they don’t, a Coolamon win over Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong will put the Hoppers back into fifth and lock in an elimination final showdown with Griffith.
Regardless, the Crows have the final round bye and will finish in third position. Leeton-Whitton coach Jade Hodge was happy with how his team finished the home and away season.
“It’s a tough ground to play at over here, it really is. At the end of the day, their season was on the line, they had to win to play finals and to the boys’ credit, especially in the last 10 minutes they really fought it out,” Hodge said.
“We showed that determination, leadership and a few of the boys stood up, it was good.”
It was not the prettiest of performances from either team. But Hodge believes it was the perfect preparation for finals.
“Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly, especially at this time of year. Going into finals now, there is going to be games like this for the rest of the year,” he said.
“To get that double chance, you give yourself every opportunity so it’s been a good effort from the boys. We’ve been a little bit inconsistent throughout the year, very similar to last year so now we’ve just got to get that consistency to play the type of footy we know we can play because when we’re at our best, we’re very good.
“There’s a big gap between when we’re at our best and when we’re a bit flat and I really think that’s just intensity. When we bring that intent, everything else just seems to follow.”
Both teams will be sweating on the result of reports after Jameson Booth and Roy Kantilla were booked during the second term.
Leeton-Whitton’s Bryce O’Garey missed the game due to soreness but will right for finals. The Crows were best served by Matt Rainbird, Tyh Evans and Ben Curley.
Leeton-Whitton’s accuracy in front of goal was again an issue and Hodge said it is something they will continue to work on. He believes it is a ‘mental thing’ with the team’s leaders being the worst offenders.
Marshal Macauley and Luke Redfern were the pick of Coolamon’s players.
Both teams were extremely frustrated by the umpiring.