THE 2018 Hume Football League season resumes this Saturday as the countdown for the finals unfolds in the remaining 10 rounds.
The premiership race is wide open with at least six teams still having chances, while the race for the final two places in the top six is wide open.
Current leaders Henty and Brock Burrum look assured of finals, with last year’s grand finalist Osborne and Jindera again expected to make deep September action.
Here is a bit of a overview of each clubs season so far and its prospects ahead of a highly anticipated and tight finals series.
HENTY – A clear flag favourite after a stunning start to the season with its high-profile recruits and reliable local lads forming a great platform for success.
Damian Cupido, with 42 goals, and Jarrah Maksymow, 24, have terrorised opposition defenders, while the Cox boys, Daniel and Dale, have been huge acquisitions.
If they can maintain the same style of football into the winter grind they should wrap up a top two finish and a great shot at premiership glory.
BROCK BURRUM – The Saints have competed very well with an injury hit list to be sitting on a 7/1-win loss ratio and good prospects ahead with a full list.
Massive encounter awaits in round 10 versus Henty with the winner taking high ground on the ladder. The Saints have had only two games out of coach Kade Stevens with injury.
Star midfielder Nico Sedgwick should return this week after missing three matches with a knee injury. Jarrod Koschitzke and Luke Schilg should also return.
OSBORNE – The defending premier, after losing the first two matches of the season, have settled nicely into its title defence with six straight victories.
The Cats have gone about their business in typical fashion with Sam Rutland, Marty Bahr and the Galvin boys all leading the charge.
They don’t have a standout goal kicker, with Marty Bahr on 15 the highest, but do have the miserliness defence in the competition, that serves them well.
JINDERA – The Bulldogs sit in fourth place just one win behind the two top sides but with a considerably weaker percentage.
Trent Castles, with 47 goals, leads the league goalkicking with the next highest being Dylan Pettingill on eight, and Michael D’Arcy seven.
Remain one of the league’s quickest sides, they are still in good space to go one better than the last two years’ grand final disappointment.
HOLBROOK – The Brookers have been the league’s big improvers to currently sit in fifth place. They do however have a tough five matches ahead that will tell more.
Have been hit with a huge injury toll with coach Matt Sharpe and Lachlan Trethowan set to return after missing almost two months.
They have lost Jayden Beaumont for the season with knee injury. The Brookers are locked into a three way battle with Giants and Culcairn for finals action.
CULCAIRN – The Lions were slow out of the blocks but have over the last few rounds shown that they have the list to do plenty of damage in finals.
Tim Haines in defence has been outstanding, while up forward John Robbins and Dennis Pedemont are a dangerous duo.
Jye Shields, Dane and Tim Hallinan have again had consistent years, with Albury Tigers’ recruits Ben Gould and Caleb Simmonds having a huge impact.
RAND WALB WALLA – The Giants are a better side than the three wins so far show. No victories in three matches being decided under two goals has been pivotal.
They have also had a tough draw and need to win all matches against teams below them over next month to stay in hunt for finals.
Chris and Jeremy Duck have been outstanding recruits with reliable defenders Brian Lieschke and Brendan Simmons have been terrific performers.
HOWLONG – The Spiders led the competition after three first up wins, but have hit the wall since losing five straight matches and plenty of percentage.
They have also been hit by injury to key players with Matt McDonald, Jay Koehler and coach Beau Packer playing just eight matches between them.
The Spiders shining light has been the form of youngsters Ben Baker and Charlie Hamilton, while veteran Peter Hancock still is as good as any ruckman in the league.
CDHBU – The Power have been the hard luck story of the season with their current position of two wins and six losses being a different tale.
The Combine have lost three matches by under 10 points and another to Osborne by 14 points to damage hopes of climbing the ladder.
Tim Cooper, Russell Anderson and Mick Collins have led the way. The Power will pose real problems to many teams in the run home to finals.
MURRAY MAGPIES – The Magpies lack of depth has been evident in a mixed season of results that has it sitting in tenth position with two wins.
A thrilling one point win at Holbrook was season highlight, but also came at a cost with Josh Maher being suspended for five matches in that win.
Former Albury star Daniel Maher has been superb along with the talented Ash Murray who has booted 32 goals so far to be third in the goalkicking table.
BILLABONG CROWS – The Crows have had an improved season despite its ladder position with two wins and two narrow losses so far.
Sixteen-year-old schoolboy George Sandral has had a brilliant season and has a bright future ahead at a higher level.
Jeremy Bourchier and James Connell have had excellent seasons, while coach Al Austin has been a huge loss in four of its matches.
LOCKHART - The Demons slow start to the season has shown signs of turning around with some good form in last two rounds.
A narrow loss at Holbrook and a super competitive effort against Brock Burrum has given them plenty of hope ahead of second half of season.
Ruckman Zachary Sheather has again been solid, while the Bouffler brothers Henry and Jamieson are two of the league’s best junior talent.