Classic potential in knockout final

IT'S do or die for Koondrook Barham and Tooleybuc Manangatang in the 2015 elimination final at Lalbert on Sunday.

Both sides have shown promise this year but also struggled with the demands of a long season.

Koondrook Barham was the talk of the town after winning its first three games, but a variety of factors have taken their toll since the shock loss to Nyah Nyah West in Round 4.

Jay Reynolds has been great in front of goals for the Raiders, recording 45 goals from his 14 appearances, while other recruits like Troy Rogers and Blake Chant have complemented an exciting mix of local talent.

Players such as Marc O'Neill, Harley Burmeister and Zac Hare have all impressed at various stages as Neil Bradley has striven to develop a consistently high-performing outfit.

But while there was plenty of promise in the early stages, injuries and questionable form have hit the club through the colder months.

A tight loss and a draw to Nyah Nyah West - which finished the season with five wins - are among the games that the Raiders will look back on as missed opportunities to further stamp their authority on the season.

Even at home to archrivals Kerang in Round 8, Koondrook Barham had an opportunity to make a statement.

The Raiders were never quite out of the game but went back into their shells with some unsociable football from the Blues in the last term.

Tooleybuc Manangatang has had a similar story this season.

The Saints recruited Brad Morris back to the club to coach and managed to sign stars including Corey Kelly and Narbie Kelly, whose speed and ball winning ability have complemented talls such as ruckman Ryan O'Sullivan and forwards Kayne McAlpine and Joel Cullen.

Injuries started to take their toll midway through the season though, with O'Sullivan, Cullen and Corey Kelly all missing too much football for the Saints to be able to cover their losses.

After an expected slow start to the year, Tooleybuc Manangatang gelled well and found a pleasing groove, but its 10-6 season record now looks like one that could have been quite a bit better had the club had better luck with players' fitness.

Big losses to Swan Hill in Round 17, at home to Mallee Eagles in Round 14 and at Barham in Round 12, as well as to Tyntynder in Round 11, are among the second-half matches that the Saints might have won or been more competitive in.

Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, Morris will be back for next season and signs are positive that the Saints will keep their key players together too.

They hit back with a win last week to extend their season at least one more game, with the potential for a further installment against the loser of Mallee Eagles and Woorinen.

Expect a cracking pace early and if both sides come to play a classic could unfold.

Both sides have been inconsistent recently, but the Raiders second half against Balranald remains a key sticking point.

The Saints might have just got their mojo back a bit against Woorinen and could pose a few problems for Koondrook Barham in a tight finish.