BFNL Round 1 Football Preview


Hawks tackle top Dogs in Borough

A PAROCHIAL Eaglehawk crowd will pack Canterbury Park to witness Saturday’s showdown with Golden Square to complete the first round of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL senior footy action.

Winds of change have blown through Golden Square since last September’s grand final victory.

Just eight of the premiership-winning team of ’23 are in the Bulldogs line-up for Saturday’s clash which starts at 2.20pm on the Simpsons Road ground.

In his debut as Square’s senior coach, Brad Eaton will rely greatly on the play of premiership winners Jayden Burke, Jon Coe and Zack Shelton in defence; Harry Burke in midfield; Hugh Freckleton, Jack Stewart and Tom Strauch in attack, and rover Jack Threlfall.

Those in their senior debut in the blue and gold are Xavier Carter, Kai Daniels, Harrison Kelly, Lachlan Monti, Liam Thomas, Zac Tickell and Zac Wescott.

Jordan Rosengren marks his return to Golden Square after a stint with Wedderburn and is joined by Luke Holt from the Redbacks.

It’s a lot more settled Eaglehawk line-up again being coached by Travis Matheson.

The Borough has named recruits Brayden and Bryce Frost from Harcourt; Brady Rowles from Melton; Pala Kuma from Strathfieldsaye Storm and Bendigo Pioneers.

Major strength for the Two Blues is an on-ball division led by Billy Evans, Joel Mullen and Ben Thompson.

The athletic Jonty Neaves who was best afield in the Hawks’ premiership win in 2018 also marks his return to the Borough where he teams up with the likes of Darcy Richards, Cam McGlashan, Charlie Langford and Oscar Madden.

Strathfieldsaye and South Bendigo mark new eras as they meet on Storm’s turf at Triple M Park in Strathfieldsaye’s Tannery Lane.

After previous stints as assistant coach to Darryl Wilson and Troy Coates in premiership years and also as senior coach at Newbridge, Luke Freeman steps up to lead Storm.

At South Bendigo it’s Steven Stroobants and Isaiah Miller who team up playing co-coaches.

For Storm it’s the start of a new era, especially in attack as champion full-forward and multiple premiership winner Lachlan Sharp starts a stint as playing assistant coach of Bridgewater.

A newcomer for Storm is wingman Charlie King from Woorinen.

Daniel Clohesy and Lachlan Ratcliffe are co-captains of a Strathfieldsaye team that has the marking power of Malik Gordon and James Schischka in attack, Caleb Sheahan in the centre, and experience of Shannon Geary and Ben Lester.

A new on-ball brigade for South Bendigo includes Matt McNaughton and Anthony Zimmerman from St Kilda City to team with ruckman Riley Walsh.

The Bloods have gained Nathan Murley from Maiden Gully YCW, Jack Francis from North Bendigo, and Will Marks from Birchip Watchem.

With Brock Harvey and Stroobants in attack the Bloods are capable of kicking plenty of goals.

A player to watch in South’s attack is Zavier Holmes who had kicked 80 goals in 11 matches for North Bendigo’s under-18s last season before he returned to the Bloods.

Club president Dujon Fuzzard was named on an interchange bench that includes talented teen Zaydyn Lockwood who has played well in the Bendigo Pioneers unbeaten run to the Coates Talent League season.

The day’s play will be completed with the twilight clash between Kangaroo Flat and Sandhurst on the Roos’ ground at Dower Park from 4pm.

Huge test for Michael Ellings who marks his senior coaching debut with the Kangaroos.

Been another big turnover of players at Kangaroo Flat.

Newcomers for the Roos include Luke Ellings who had played for Gisborne, but has now joined his Dad at Dower Park.

Fans of the Flat will also closely watch the play of Corey Ash from St Kilda City; Justin Bateson from Wycheproof-Narraport; Lachlan Dalziel and Austin Lothian from Mornington.

Huge challenge for a Roos’ defence led by Kyle Symons and Toby Balcke up against the marking power of former Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn forward Fergus Greene, and Lachlan Wright.

Huge inclusion for Sandhurst is gun midfielder Lachlan Tardrew who has committed to being a full-time player with the club after a 99-game VFL career with Collingwood.

Runner-up in ’23, a Sandhurst team jointly coached by Ash Connick, playing, and Bryce Curnow, non-playing, has the hard-working James Coghlan and Noah Walsh in on-ball roles and experienced Joel Wharton and Nick Stagg.

Recruited from North Hobart, Matt Campbell was named at full-back for the Dragons.

The Bendigo FNL season began with a stand-alone match between Castlemaine and Maryborough on Good Friday at Castlemaine’s Camp Reserve.

The Michael Hartley-coached Castlemaine marked a 69-point victory.

After an extended break, Castlemaine will play South Bendigo on April 20 at Kennington’s Harry Trott Oval.

A Maryborough team jointly coached by Coby Perry and Matt Johnston will take on Kangaroo Flat in round two at Princes Park.