Bulldogs fight to reach grand final
IT will be a dogfight as Gisborne takes on Golden Square in Saturday’s senior footy preliminary final in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League.
At stake in the contest at Queen Elizabeth Oval is the chance to play in the grand final against Strathfieldsaye.
This season’s meetings between the league’s two breed of Bulldogs stands at one-all.
Gisborne won the round eight clash on its turf at Gardiner Reserve by 15 points.
The 17th round showdown at Golden Square’s Fur Life Oval went the way of the blue and gold by 10 points.
In this finals series it’s been Strathfieldsaye which beat Golden Square in the qualifying final by 38 points, and then defeated Gisborne by two goals in the second semi-final.
The Christian Carter-coached Golden Square bounced back to mark a 39-point win against South Bendigo in the first semi.
A big focus for Square will be goalkicking accuracy after a tally of 10.22 against the Bloods.
A week’s rest courtesy of finishing on top of the ladder may not have been the best for Gisborne which made a lethargic start against Storm last Saturday.
The Rob Waters-coached Bulldogs will believe they were better for the run going into what is now a must-win match.
When these teams last met it was Golden Square’s defensive pressure which played a key part in its victory.
Defence will again be a key as Gisborne has a forward line led by brilliant captain Pat McKenna, the athletic Josh Kemp, strong marking Jack Scanlon, and skill of Matt Merrett, Ethan Foreman and Ethan Minns at ground level.
The ability of the Gisborne forwards to work into space will test a Golden Square defence led by Jon Coe, Will Lee and Zack Shelton.
The blue and gold also has Liam Barrett, Liam Duguid and Jack Merrin who have teamed superbly in many matches.
Gisborne’s gun ruckman Braidon Blake did not play at Golden Square in the 17th round, but is back now.
The duel of Blake and the experienced Matt Compston will be a highlight.
Gisborne on-ballers Flynn Lakey and Nic Doolan will be up against Michelsen medallist and Golden Square captain Jack Geary and the skilful Ricky Monti.
A strong Gisborne defence led by Jack Reaper, Jaidyn Owen, Liam Spear and Jake Normington also faces a huge task.
The classy Joel Brett has earned the Ron Best Medal as the league’s leading goalkicker.
Brett goes into this match needing four goals to bring up the century mark.
Golden Square also has the marking power of Jayden Burke, Braydon Vaz and Tom Strauch, and Jarrod Fitzpatrick and Jack Hickman at ground level.
The two-way running and skill of Gisborne’s wingmen Sam Graham and Seb Bell-Bartels will be crucial against Square stars Jake Thrum and Hamish Morcom.
Among the many highlights of this match will be in the centre where Gisborne’s Brad Bernacki and Golden Square’s Ryan Hartley are likely to do battle.
Schedule for Saturday’s preliminary finals at Queen Elizabeth Oval:
Under-18s at 10.45am: Gisborne v Golden Square.
Reserves at 12.45pm: Golden Square v Sandhurst.
Seniors at 2.50pm: Gisborne v Golden Square.
Written by Nathan Dole.