Bloods chase winning hat-trick as Dragons lose gun forward
SOUTH Bendigo will aim to defeat Sandhurst for a third time this season when they clash in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy elimination final this Sunday.
Fans can expect a fierce contest from 2.20pm at Queen Elizabeth Oval as the long-time rivals fight to stay in the race for the Bendigo Advertiser premiership cup.
Just days out from the clash, Sandhurst’s in-form full-forward Cobi Maxted is out of the Bendigo FNL elimination final to play in a VFL elimination final for Collingwood against Carlton on Sunday at Victoria Park.
Maxted kicked nine goals for the Dragons in last Saturday’s win at Castlemaine’s Camp Reserve for a season tally of 59 goals.
The Nathan Horbury-coached South Bendigo marks a long-awaited return to senior finals.
It’s another finals campaign for Sandhurst which has faced must-win matches for the past month.
The Ash Connick-coached Dragons will not want the season to end on Sunday.
Unlike previous seasons, South Bendigo won both showdowns with Sandhurst in the home and away series.
The fighting quality of the Bloods was to the fore in round three and again in the 12th.
The Graeme Wright Memorial Cup was up for grabs in the Anzac Round match played on April 23.
South Bendigo led 61-45 at half-time and after the Dragons took the lead in the last it was the Bloods who lifted to claim a 94-86 victory.
The classy Kaiden Antonowicz and Brock Harvey led South’s attack on six and three goals.
Leading goalkickers for the Dragons were Cobi Maxted, six, and Joel Wharton two.
The Bloods’ best were Daniel Johnstone, Isaiah Miller, Braydan Torpey and Liam Byrne.
Sandhurst’s best were Cobi Maxted, Hamish Hosking, Joel Wharton and Noah Walsh.
It was another thriller between the QEO co-tenants in round 12.
The Bloods led 49-39 at half-time, but the margin was cut to just two points by the final change.
Led by the play of Brock Harvey, Alex Smith and Isaiah Miller it was the Bloods who lifted to score 4.2 to 3.1 in the last quarter for a 100-91 victory.
A six-goal haul by Harvey added to a superb season as Antonowizc and Smith added two goals apiece.
Sandhurst’s attack was led by Cobi Maxted, four, and Jasper Stewart, three.
There will be many crucial match-ups this time.
A highlight will be in the ruck where the Bloods have Will Allen up against Hamish Hosking.
The Bloods’ on-ball brigade of Liam Byrne and Michael Herlihy, and centreman Cooper Leon will play key roles against James and Lee Coghlan, and Brodie Montague.
It’s been Harvey and Antonowicz as main targets in South’s attack, but the Bloods also have Will Keck, Sam Langley and Isaiah Miller capable of setting up or finishing attacks.
Although they will be without a key target in Maxted, Sandhurst still has plenty of attacking options to test a Bloods defence that includes Daniel Johnstone at full-back, Andrew van Heumen and Braydan Torpey across half-back, and pacy captain Zac Hare.
A premiership-winning forward for Sandhurst, Matt Thornton is back from an eight-week holiday overseas.
The Dragons’ match committee faces a tough call on whether to bring the strong-marking forward into the team.
Sandhurst does regain Joel Wharton who was rested for the 18th round.
Other players to watch for the Dragons include Blair Holmes, Liam Ireland, Tanner Nally, Noah Walsh and Alex Wharton.
South Bendigo has to whittle a ‘from’ interchange of seven down to four.
Sandhurst and Eaglehawk will fight to stay in the reserves premiership race from 12.15pm.
In round six, Sandhurst stormed to a 62-point victory on the Pat Cronin Foundation Day at the QEO.
The Dragons led 59-12 at half-time and went on to win 100-38.
The return match played at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park in the 15th round also went the way of the maroon and blue, 59-20.
Luke Crawford kicked three goals to be among Sandhurst’s best with Darcy Mills, Billy Robertson and Jed Zimmer.
The Hawks’ best included Ethan Hanley, Khy Sawyer, Mark Storey and Rhys Foster.
Eaglehawk’s squad for the elimination final includes Cameron McGlashan, Bailey Ilsley, Matt Noden and Tyler Eliades.
In the run to the finals, Sandhurst had a 13-5 record and the Hawks were 8-10.
Winner of the Dragons and Hawks showdown will meet either Gisborne or Strathfieldsaye in the first semi-final on September 4.
This Sunday’s footy action kicks off at 10.15am when Strathfieldsaye faces Maryborough in the under-18s match.
Storm ended the home and away series in fourth place on a 12-5 record, as the Magpies were fifth on 9-9.
In round six, Strathfieldsaye won 76-29 at Triple M Park in Tannery Lane.
The round 15 match at Maryborough’s Princes Park ended in a 71-46 win for Storm.
Rowan Fox kicked four goals and was Storm’s best, along with Blake McGregor, Dermott Bell and Campbell Tangey.
Maryborough’s best in the second showdown with Strathfieldsaye were Jai Howell, Lachlan Bursill, Damon Nitschke and Riley Hamilton.
It will be season over for the beaten team, while the winner will face Golden Square or Gisborne in the September 4 first semi-final.
Written by Nathan Dole.