STRATHFIELDSAYE Storm will be primed for another big game challenge when it tackles Golden Square in this Saturday’s 12th round in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy action.
Two of the league’s biggest rivals of this decade will clash on Golden Square’s turf at Fur Life Vet Oval in Wade Street.
It’s third against first, with Square desperate to play significantly better than round three when Storm cruised to a 66-point victory at Triple M Park in Strathfieldsaye.
A key to Golden Square’s play will be defensive efforts and capitalising on turnovers.
Just who opposes Storm’s gun full-forward Lachlan Sharp will have occupied plenty of thinking by Golden Square Bernie Haberman.
Options include Will Lee, Jon Coe, and Liam Barrett.
In midfield, Square has Hamish Morcom, Jack Geary and Callum Draper to take on Vin Flood, Kellan Smith and Josh Formosa.
Storm’s inclusions for this match include coach Troy Coates and talented teenagers James Schischka, William Wallace and Riley Wilson.
The ruck duel between Bulldogs’ star Matt Compston and Harry Crone will be vital, and Square must also try to limit the run of Kallen Geary and Shannon Geary.
The same applies for Storm as Jake Thrum and Zack Shelton can quickly turn defence into attack for the blue and gold.
Storm has a strong attack led by Hugh Robertson and Bailey Henderson, plus the versatility of Ben Lester and Bryce Curnow.
The Bulldogs will look to Jayden Burke, Mitch Treacy and Jordan Rosengren as key targets inside the forward 50m arc.
Sandhurst’s Nick Stagg will mark his 200th senior match when the Dragons face South Bendigo in the battle of the QEO co-tenants.
Both teams have made plenty of changes.
Stagg was named in a forward pocket alongside Matt Thornton, but the 200-gamer could be switched to an on-ball or midfield role.
The Dragons also welcome back Andy Collins at half-forward and Lachlan Tardrew.
In a season hit by injury, the experience Collins has from AFL stints at Richmond and Carlton is a huge plus in the Dragons’ run to the finals.
An attack that has the marking strength of Thornton and Will Holt will test South’s defence.
Heavy conditions will also suit the stronger-bodied Blair Holmes, Adam Parry and Chris Down in the centre ball-ups and stoppages.
The Bloods go into this match without coach Nathan Horbury, selected to represent Victoria Country against the Victorian Amateurs for the Brian Molony Cup.
South Bendigo will look to Braydan Torpey, Regan Harvey and Daniel Johnstone to defend well, Brody Haddow, Sam Maher and Tom Brereton to rack up many possessions, and for Kaiden Antonowicz, Brady Childs and Will Allen to lead the attack.
A highlight will be the ruck battle between Callum Crisp of the Bloods and Chris Down of the Dragons.
The winless Castlemaine will eye its match at Kyneton as a chance to finally break its season duck.
It’s also a return to Tigerland for Castlemaine coach Derrick Filo, a premiership-winning coach with Kyneton.
Luke Beattie is back in Kyneton’s attack, and the Tigers’ coach will be desperate to improve on just one-point being scored in the previous home game against Gisborne.
Key players for Kyneton include Harrison Huntley at centre half-back, Rhys Magin in the centre, Ben Xiriha in defence, Hamish and Josh Govan in onball roles, and Patrick McCarthy at full-forward.
Stars for the Magpies include Angus Monfries in attack or on-ball role, Matt Filo, Jake O’Brien, Anthony Robins, Dylan Atkins and Mitch Dance.
Eaglehawk welcomes back Michelsen medallist Brodie Filo for its clash with Maryborough on the Hawks’ turf at Canterbury Park.
Filo was named in the centre where he will link up with Jack Fallon and Ryan Gilligham.
Earlier in the season, Eaglehawk had to fight extremely hard to win at Barkers Oval in Maryborough’s Princes Park.
Players to watch for Eaglehawk include Ben McPhee, Cam McGlashan, Sean Williams, Oscar Madden, Sam Harper, Clayton Holmes and Brodie Collins.
Maryborough has the running power and skill of Coby Perry, Matt Bilton, Lachlan Butler and Jayden Hooper to test the Hawks.
A blow is key forward Stewart Crameri being out.
The Ben Lavars-coached Magpies also have Bodie Malone, Luke Bucknall and Jacob Long in form.
Gisborne will have too much firepower for Kangaroo Flat to hold across four quarters at Gardiner Reserve.
Although the Bulldogs are without gun forward Pat McKenna, representing Victoria Country against VAFA, they still have Jack Scanlon, Jarryd Vernon, Seb Bell-Bartels and coach Clint Young to take on the Roos defence.
Ethan Minns, Matt Goodyear, Casey Summerfield and ruckman Josh Grabham are in hot form for the Bulldogs.
Kangaroo Flat welcomes back number one ruckman Nick Lang from injury.
Among the seven inclusions for the Roos are Trent McInnes at full forward, Brodie Fry in the ruck, and Brady Rowles on a wing.
Riley Barrack is capable of winning many contests, either on-ball or defence, while Liam Collins, Dylan Klemm, Lloyd Needs, Matt Despott and Matt Clifford have played well in most matches.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Strathfieldsaye 263 per cent, 40 points; Gisborne 228, 36; Golden Square 183, 36; Eaglehawk 160, 32; Sandhurst 140, 28; Maryborough 73, 20; Kyneton 53, 12; South Bendigo 69, 8; Kangaroo Flat 51, 8; Castlemaine 24, 0.