Mernda coach Paul Derrick believes his side will deserve to be in the Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 final series if it can hold on to a top-four spot by the end of the regular season.
The Demons currently sit in fourth position on the ladder and have a one-game and 10 percent gap over fifth-placed Laurimar.
Mernda hosts the competition’s top-two sides, St Mary’s and Panton Hill, in the final two home and away rounds, while Laurimar faces bottom-two sides, Lalor and Reservoir.
It means Derrick’s side will likely have to win both its final two matches to guarantee a top-four place and play finals for the first time since 2014.
“Our mindset will be that we will deserve whatever we will get,” Derrick told NFNL.org.au.
“If we can put four quarters together and manage to pull off a couple of victories then we will deserve our spot in the finals.
“If not, then we have just been making up the numbers throughout the season.
“We need to serve up something in the next two games to prove that we belong there.”
Mernda had to survive a last quarter comeback from Lalor to hold on for an eight-point victory in Round 15. It followed a shock 27-point home defeat to Laurimar the week prior.
But it’s the importance of winning the two upcoming matches that sits at the top of Derrick’s list of priorities.
“We just have to get consistent, but we know we are running out of time,” he said.
“The way we played (last week) wasn’t so good but our contested footy was good.
“Our message at the end of the game was while it wasn’t the prettiest win, we got the four points, which was our main focus, and will continue to be our focus next week.”
While the potential of making the finals has the club buzzing, Derrick is committed to keeping the focus of his team on the last two weeks of the regular season.
“I think all along the boys have been keen to get back into the finals. It hasn’t been mentioned too much but it is probably in the players’ mind a bit,” he said.
“But the full focus has to go to St Mary’s, which is a huge opposition this week. Our focus is if we are going to deserve finals then we know we have to put in big efforts starting from this week.
“The boys are up for the challenge. I know we will focus on everything possible to give us the best opportunity to win.”
After a disappointing 2017 that yielded just four wins, Derrick has taken many positives out of the season so far, most notably the ability to give senior experience to a host of the club’s up and coming youngsters.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but the best part I think is that we have used around 48 players, nine of them from the under-19s,” he said.
“We gave everybody exposure and that helps everyone.
“We’ve won a few close games, which could have gone either way, so it shows that we have stood up as a club.
“Last year’s backline is very similar to this year’s and we’re down 60, 70 points in our scored against column last year.
“We are happy with what we have achieved to date but whether it is enough we don’t know. We are aiming pretty high. Finals are our aim and the next two weeks will decide that.”
The likes of Matthew Campbell, Tom Deayton and Liam Gray have been standouts for Mernda this season, while captain Josh Delaney has been solid up forward and is the club’s leading goal kicker with 23 majors.
Derrick feels the club’s best players have not only improved individually but have also helped their teammates become better players.
“Tommy Deayton has been outstanding in the backline, Joshua Delaney has had a good year, Matty Campbell has held up well down in the backline. Liam Gray has been asked to play every position on the field and he hasn’t let us down,” Derrick said.
“They’ve all been their own leaders and most of our leaders are young leaders. Everyone is learning and that helps their development.
“We’ve got a solid team and when everyone comes to play their role, then that’s when we look and play our best.”