Launceston City and Northern Rangers enter the farewell round of the NPL Tasmania season both full of talk over three points and what a difference that result can make to a year.
But for different reasons.
For City coach Jez Kenth, the three points on Saturday differentiates between what is a “very good year” and just a “good year”.
In a head to head contest with Hobart Zebras for third, City needs to win to secure its best finish since the return to the statewide league.
Tasmanian giants Devonport City and South Hobart ended City’s fairytale title hopes in the past two rounds.
Kenth’s side led the competition from rounds six to 12 on the back of nine wins and two draws until a first loss.
“Finishing third is a good achievement, I’d say almost a great achievement that we wouldn’t have thought of at the start of the year,” he said.
“Our best scenario this season was hoping to catch one and to catch both of them would have been a pretty big statement to make.
“It can go from a very good year by winning or just a good year by finishing fourth.
“There’s still a lot to play for and not a lot between us.”
After City earned one solitary point in 2013 and 10 the next year to take out wooden spoons, the club climbed to fifth in 2015 and 2016 with 24 and 23 points each season before dropping back to sixth with 18 points last year.
Heading into final round, City sit on 36 points. Kenth said the hard work is not over.
“[Top three] was my goal from day one – we haven’t changed from that,” he said.
“I can’t see why the team wouldn’t want to finish the season on a win to start the next season with a win and we want to win the way we started with another win.”
Devonport all but sealed the NPL title in last week’s 3-0 win over City.
South Hobart needs to win by an improbable 18 goals – and only should the Strikers lose to Kingborough – to pinch the premiership back.
For Northern Rangers, they know South Hobart will have them in the firing line.
It only comes after Rangers caused a 3-2 upset of the season against the defending premiers at Darcy Street.
“When we beat them is probably the three points from stopping them winning the league now,” Rangers coach Lino Sciulli said.
It could have turned the dead fixture into a goalfest in search of a South Hobart win.
But Sciulli expects Kenny Morton’s men to have moved past their lost moment.
“Kenny himself is not like that and he wouldn’t think like that,” he said, “but if I was playing Rangers, I would have anticipated that I would come away those points.”
Rangers have already secured sixth for the 2018 season, but need at least a point to better last year despite finishing one place below.
Sciulli is wary of a long campaign’s effect on his side.
“We had a poor Tuesday on the track, both coaching and playing, but we want to improve that [last night] before the game,” he said.
“But we also haven’t got a great record of last games of the year in each season.”