THE Sandhurst Dragons will be fired up for Saturday’s clash at Gisborne in round eight of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy action.
Both clubs go into the clash high on confidence.
Indigenous Round was marked by Gisborne breaking Eaglehawk’s unbeaten run at Canterbury Park as Sandhurst scored a one-point victory against Golden Square at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
The duel between the Bulldogs and Dragons at Gardiner Reserve pits a powerful Gisborne attack against a well-drilled Sandhurst defence.
Back at Gisborne after stints with AFL clubs Greater Western Sydney Giants and Melbourne, Pat McKenna is in hot form.
McKenna’s seven-goal haul at Eaglehawk earned best-on-ground honours.
The return of Jack Scanlon after playing in the AFL Victoria Young Guns game is a huge plus for Gisborne, and Trent Crosbie is also back.
A talented forward line for the Bulldogs includes Jarrad Lynch, Seb Bell-Bartels and Callum Williamson.
Midfield contests will be important.
Gisborne playing coach Clinton Young is an important cog from a wing or half-back, while Casey Summerfield, Matt Goodyear are superb in and and around the packs.
The Ash Connick-coached Sandhurst will take plenty of self-belief into this contest.
Dragons’ defenders Josh Hann and Isaac Ruff are in great form, while an onball brigade that includes ruckman Chris Down, Blair Holmes, Adam Parry, Nick Stagg, Jake McLean and Zac Pallpratt will test Gisborne.
Matt ‘Bear’ Thornton marked his 200th senior game by being one of Sandhurst’s best last week. His marking at half-forward or close to goal is a major threat to any opponent.
Another big match will be at Bendigo Mazda Oval in Dower Park where Kangaroo Flat hosts Maryborough.
The Kangaroos and Magpies are chasing consecutive victories.
The Robert Bennett-coached Kangaroos had key forwards Matt Boland, five goals, and Matt Clifford, three goals, star in last Sunday’s win against South Bendigo at the QEO.
Both are strong-marking targets and at times reaped the reward of the Roos’ quick transition from centre ball-ups inside the forward 50m arc.
The Roos regain Corey Greer in midfield and have promoted youngster Mitch Rovers from the under-18s.
In-form ruckman Nick Lang is out, so Nathan McHugh will play an important role.
Kangaroo Flat will look for onballers Jonathan Lanyon, Hayden Pyke Daniel Rees and Ryley Barrack to take charge through the centre of the ground.
Other players to watch in the Roos line-up include Dylan Klemm across half-forward, Andrew Cussen, Ross Turner and Trent McInnes.
The Ben Lavars-coached Maryborough had two of its returning stars, Matt Bilton and Stewart Crameri play key roles as they kicked four and three goals in the win against Kyneton at Barkers Oval in Maryborough’s Princes Park.
The Magpies are yet to win on the road.
Bilton’s play through midfield and in attack will test the Kangaroos, while Daniel Vadala, Zac Polinelli and Connor O’Shea were among the best against the Tigers.
Key defenders Bodie Malone and Mitchell McClure will again play important roles for Maryborough.
Kyneton will fancy its chances of an upset when it hosts Eaglehawk in Tigerland at Kyneton Showgrounds.
The Tigers will be snarling from a loss, and the same goes for Eaglehawk after consecutive defeats.
Rhys Magin, Josh Govan and Harrison Huntley have been Kyneton’s most consistent, but they need more support across four quarters.
A Tigers’ attack that includes coach Luke Beattie, Patrick McCarthy, Shannon Rooth and Max O’Sullivan must make the most of opportunities.
Eaglehawk’s dare and skills are nowhere near the level it achieved in the run to last year’s premiership.
A talented Hawks’ line-up that includes Brodie Collins, Joel Mullen, Riley McIvor and Ben McPhee in midfield, Shaun Knott and Sean Williams in attack, and Tim Hill and Tyler Miles leading the defence should take the points.
Castlemaine faces Golden Square at Camp Reserve.
A tough season for the Magpies becomes more so as the Bulldogs will be determined to hit back from a one-point defeat.
Goalkicking will be an area Golden Square coach Bernie Habermann will want to see improve significantly.
A powerful Bulldogs line-up includes inter-league stars Jack Geary, Adam Baird, Jake Thrum, Jayden Burke and Alex Marklew, as well as Jon Coe and William Lee as the pillars of a strong defence.
Golden Square will be without Travis Baird, but Dale Lowry returns.
The Magpies will again look to ruck-rover Jake O’Brien, Matt Filo, Angus Monfries, Anthony Robins and Mitch Dance to lead the way for their inexperienced team-mates.
It’s consecutive home games for Strathfieldsaye at Triple M Park as Storm takes on South Bendigo at the Tannery Lane ground.
Storm was in awesome form last round.
Brilliant forward Lachlan Sharp leads the race for the Ron Best Medal on 52 goals and is on track to pass the century mark again.
Inclusions to Storm’s squad include coach Troy Coates, Jack Neylon, James Schischka, Caleb Sheahan and Riley Wilson.
The running ability and skill of Kallen Geary, Josh Formosa, Sam Heavyside, Matt Smith, plus the versatility of Bryce Curnow and Hugh Robertson are among the many strengths in Strathfieldsaye’s team.
South Bendigo made five changes for this contest.
A huge blow is inter-league ruckman Callum Crisp being out.
The experienced Joel Swatton is back, along with Aaron Gundry, Mitch Hocking, Sam Maher, Tyler McLeod and Alex Smith-Ralph.
The leap and marking strength of Kaiden Antonowicz was a highlight as he kicked six goals in the Bloods clash with Kangaroo Flat.
Just how much supply, and quality, will be big factors in how Antonowicz and the Bloods fare on Storm’s turf.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Strathfieldsaye 272 per cent, 28 points; Gisborne 211, 24; Golden Square 147, 20; Sandhurst 139, 20; Eaglehawk 127, 16; Kyneton 70, 12; Maryborough 65, 8; Kangaroo Flat 59, 8; South Bendigo 68, 4; Castlemaine 27, 0.