In a season that has been full of unpredictable stoppages and results, the best teams in the MDFL and MDNA have shown their class to put themselves in the hunt as September action approaches.
Each team has played nine games in the 2021 season, with two matches still needing to be played so that everyone has played against each other at least once.
With the race to the finals delicately poised, the Stawell-Times News has assessed each teams chances of making it to the last day of the season.
In the Mininera and District Football League the two sides stand clear of the chasing pack, but only just.
Woorndoo Mortlake and Tatyoon are both undefeated so far in 2021, with the Tigers on top of the ladder thanks to their superior percentage.
The two sides are scheduled to meet in round 15, the second last round of the season.
But with fixturing uncertainty in play at the moment, the league have said they will prioritise the matches where teams haven't played each already in 2021, meaning we hope to see a top of the table showdown before the finals begin.
The Tigers have been more aggressive with their play during the season, scoring an average of 158 points per game, while Tatyoon averages 128 points.
However, the Tatyoon defence has been tighter conceding just 41 points per game compared to the Tigers' 46.
It will be a fascinating match-up when the sides meet later in the season, to see which side of the ball can get on top.
Despite the dominance of the top two, Great Western are still in the hunt to defend their 2019 crown.
The Lions had some early season form and injury struggles, but with star power all over the ground, they can not be ruled out as a contender.
New recruit Damon Folkes, who is leading the league's goal kicking with 57 majors ahead of Woorndoo Mortlake's Grant Cameron (48 goals) in second, will be a big key for the Lions as they look to go back to back.
Unless either of the top-two sides suffer an upset loss, it is unlikely the Lions can climb higher than third on the ladder, but it was from third on the ladder the Lions made their run to a flag in 2019.
Glenthompson Dunkeld sit fourth on the table, also with a 7-2 record, but with a percentage that is well below Great Western's.
That gap was also on display in round 11 when Glenthompson Dunkeld fell 58 points short of Tatyoon.
Can they improve between now and the end of the year to become a genuine premiership threat?
Finally, the race for fifth position will come down to a round 12 blockbuster in Lismore.
Lismore Derrinallum are in fifth position after nine games, one game ahead of a resurgent Ararat Eagles.
The Eagles have stumbled on occasion through the 2021 season, but their relatively new squad, headed by Aiden Graveson, Jayden Wright and the returning Ryan Weppner, is gearing up up for a September charge, if they can qualify.
With limited games remaining in the season, everything will be on the line at Lismore with the winner to take control of their finals destiny.
Outside of the top six Moyston have been competitive on occasion but not for long enough to consistently challenge the top sides, while Hawkesdale Macarthur are also not at the level for MDFL finals football in 2021.
In the netball action, the 2019 grand finalist are headed for another titanic battle for the premiership, unless another squad can rock the boat.
After nine matches, 2019 runner's up Woorndoo Mortlake are undefeated after pulling off an upset away victory over reigning premiers Glenthompson Dunkeld in round seven, 38-22.
The Tigers were dominant on that day, scoring a win that should give them top spot if they're good enough to win their remaining games.
Despite the loss and being held to 22 goals on the day, Glenthompson Dunkeld have been more potent in attack, scoring an extra 77 goals across the season.
Can they harness this scoring power when they meet again?
The remainder of the finals positions sees a tight grouping of Penshurst, Tatyoon, Great Western and Wickliffe Lake Bolac, who are all separated by just eight points on the ladder.
A slip up or two before the end of the season could see a big shift in the final rankings, with one side to miss out on September action.
In 2019 Tatyoon and Penshurst both played finals, with the pair finishing in fourth and third respectively, so both squads will be out to go at least one step further in 2021.
Meanwhile Great Western and Wickliffe Lake Bolac missed out on finals action in 2019, but after vastly improved 2019 seasons they are right in the battle for a top five place.
In the league's remaining matches, who can hold their nerve and earn a spot in the MDNA finals series?
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