BFNL Football Prelim Preview | Sandhurst strives to end Strathfieldsaye’s streak


SANDHURST will be striving to end an incredible streak by Strathfieldsaye when they clash in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL senior footy preliminary final on Saturday.

Victory for Sandhurst would not only put it in the grand final, but also put a stop to Storm’s run of being there on that one day in September.

Since 2013, Strathfieldsaye has played in seven of eight grand finals and won the Bendigo Advertiser premiership cup four times.

The run by the Darryl Wilson-coached Storm includes the back-to-back grand final triumphs against Sandhurst in 2014 and ’15 by margins of 55 and seven points.

Sandhurst’s most recent grand final appearance was in 2016 when it beat Golden Square by 32 points.

This season’s meetings between the Dragons and Storm stand at two-nil in favour of Sandhurst.

After finishing the home and away series on top of the ladder and earning a week’s rest, Sandhurst could not stop Golden Square’s charge to victory in the second semi-final.

Now the heat’s on against a Storm line-up which has gone win, loss, win across its three finals contests.

Among the key duels will be just who does oppose Storm captain and Ron Best medallist Lachlan Sharp.

The sharpshooter goes into this match on a season tally of 95 goals.

When these teams last met it was James Coghlan who did a brilliant job limiting Sharp’s impact on the contest.

One of the best forwards in league history, Sharp kicked 142 goals and won the Michelsen Medal when Storm won the 2017 premiership.

In 2019 he booted 129 goals and Strathfieldsaye beat Eaglehawk for the premiership cup.

Best afield and recipient of the Nalder Medal was Bryce Curnow who alternated between centre half-back and centre half-forward as he played all four quarters at the city end of the ground.

On Saturday, Curnow will be aiming to play a crucial role for the Dragons.

Key players for a Sandhurst team coached by Ash Connick, non-playing, and Bryce Curnow, captain Lee Coghlan, Andy Collins, ruckman Hamish Hosking, Sam Conforti, Lachlan Wright and Noah Walsh.

It was 14 years ago that Lee Coghlan became one of the youngest winners of the Michelsen Medal.

Whether it be in an on-ball role or in attack, Lee Coghlan is one of Sandhurst’s most valuable players.

Storm’s stars include Jake Moorhead who earned the Michelsen Medal in 2022.

This season he racked up plenty of matches in the VFL with Essendon, but has returned to play a key role in Storm’s push for another premiership.

Selected as ruck-rover, Moorhead will team up with ruckman Jed Brereton, rover Callum McCarty, and centre Lachlan Gill for the important centre ball-ups.

Storm’s attack features the marking power of James Schischka and Caleb Ernst, and the pace and skill of Matt Harvey, Baxter Slater and Riley Wilson at ground level.

In defence it will be Lachlan Ratcliffe, Ben Lester, Mitch Hallinan and Luke Webb who not work to stifle Sandhurst’s moves, but also be a launching pad into attack.

They will be up against Lachlan Wright, Matt Thornton, Cobi Maxted and Nick Stagg.

The Dragons’ line-up also features Archer Day-Wicks, son of Tim Wicks, a triple winner of the Frank Harding Medal as the Loddon Valley FNL’s best and fairest in his playing days with Mitiamo.

Wicks was also part of Strathfieldsaye’s first senior team in the BFNL.

Archer’s grandfather, Terry Day was a champion ruck-rover or centreman in North Bendigo’s premiership-winning years of 1976 and ’77.

On Saturday it will be Dragons’ youngsters such as Day-Wicks, Noah Walsh, Darcy Mills and Cooper Smith giving their all to ensure victory.

Strathfieldsaye also has the experience of Shannon Geary and Daniel Clohesy.

In the reserves it’s Sandhurst against Strathfieldsaye from 12.45pm.

The Dragons won the qualifying final against Golden Square by 53 points, but were outplayed in the second semi showdown with Eaglehawk.

A 52-point victory put the Hawks into the grand final.

Key players for Sandhurst include Brodie Montague, Will Moran, Harrison Monk, Sean O’Farrell and Jake Wilkinson.

Storm’s run in the finals began by eliminating Gisborne.

Strathfieldsaye then scored an eight-goal win against Golden Square in the first semi.

Captain Wade Kinniburgh and Harry Teasdale were Storm’s leading votegetters in the race for the Alan McDonald Medal awarded to the league’s fairest and best.

Storm’s line-up to take on the Dragons includes Lachlan Bonney, Ethan and Jai Featherby, Rowan Fox, Brady Hore, Carson James and Shannon Murphy.

Preliminary final day kicks off with the under-18s match between Gisborne and Sandhurst at 10.45am.

These teams met in the qualifying final where Gisborne marked a 70-22 victory.

In last Saturday’s second semi, Gisborne went down to Golden Square by three goals.

Sandhurst won the first semi against Maryborough by 49 points.

A talented Gisborne team includes captain Kane Minns, Jarrod Ainsworth in the centre, Darcy Young, Matthew Barake and Jacob Grinter.

The Dragons will look for big games from the likes of Logan Kilcullen, Thaine Bake, Jack English, Wil Pinniger, Jacob Austin and Henry Edwards to earn a crack at the Bulldogs for a premiership victory.