BFNL Round 18 Football Preview | Finals time arrives early for Dragons, Hawks


IT WILL be a finals-type intensity as Sandhurst and Eaglehawk meet in Saturday’s 18th round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL season.

There’s plenty at stake for both clubs in the last round of the home and away series.

Win and Sandhurst retains top spot and a rest for next weekend’s start to the finals action.

Defeat is likely to put the Dragons in a qualifying final as the second-placed Golden Square rounds out the run to September by taking on Kangaroo Flat this Saturday.

Eaglehawk has plenty to play for.

Win and the Two Blues are in a qualifying final.

A loss and the Hawks are in the elimination final.

Fans can expect a fierce contest between these teams who were locked on 64-all at the end of the round nine showdown at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park.

A formidable Sandhurst team co-coached by Ash Connick, non-playing, and Bryce Curnow, playing, has a record of 15 wins, one draw, one defeat.

Key players for the Dragons include gun ruckman Hamish Hosking, Bryce Curnow at centre half-back, Lachlan Wright and Matt Thornton in attack.

The Dragons defence is led brilliantly by Liam Ireland, Noah Walsh and Tanner Nally.

They will be up against Clayton Holmes, Sam Harper and Lewin Davis.

In the on-ball and midfield duels, Sandhurst has Sam Conforti, James and Lee Coghlan, Andy Collins and Jake McLean to take on Noah Wheeler, Billy Evans, Thomas Bennett, Joel Mullen and Ben Thompson.

Big test for Hawks’ defenders Dylan Hanley, Charlie Langford and Oscar Madden.

Another big match will be at Kyneton Showgrounds where the Tigers take on Strathfieldsaye.

Sixth on the ladder, Kyneton starts the day locked on 36 points with the fifth-placed South Bendigo.

Should the Tigers upset Storm and South Bendigo be beaten by Castlemaine then its Kyneton which progresses to an elimination final.

Massive task for the Darren Chambers-coached Kyneton to beat a Storm line-up which can finish third and hold the double chance by taking the points at Tigerland and also relying on the Hawks to be defeated.

Kyneton has named Harrison Huntley at full-back where he will be opposed by Storm co-captain Lachlan Sharp who has kicked 22 goals the past two rounds and a runaway leader for the Ron Best Medal once again.

Other key players for the Tigers include Cameron Manuel, Thomas Quinn, Jordan Iudica, Hamish  Yunghanns, Ethan Foreman and Mason Crozier.

The Darryl Wilson-coached Storm has scored 64 goals in its past two hit-outs.

Strathfieldsaye has named co-captain and last season’s Michelsen medallist Jake Moorhead in the centre.

Other players to watch for Storm are Luke Webb at half-back, ruck-rover Daniel Clohesy, James Schischka, ruckman Tim Hosking, Baxter Slater and Callum McCarty.

Victorious in just one of its past five matches, South Bendigo faces a must-win clash with Castlemaine at Kennington’s Harry Trott Oval.

Math is easy for the Bloods.

A win ensures finishing the home and away series in fifth place.

Lose and it’s curtains to the ’23 campaign.

The Nathan Horbury-coached South Bendigo was thrashed after quarter-time of last Saturday’s match at Gisborne.

There were few highlights for the Bloods.

Ruckman Mac Cameron racked up 29 disposals, 61 hit out, 17 clearances, and 237 ranking points to earn the Barry Plant Bendigo Player of the Round award.

The classy Will Keck kicked five goals at Gisborne and will play a crucial role against Castlemaine, along with Brock Harvey and Steven Stroobants.

South Bendigo also welcomes back on-baller Cooper Leon for his first senior match since being injured in the round eight win against Gisborne.

There’s too much for the Bloods to play for, so expect the likes of Brody Haddow, Oscar White, Zac Hare, Braydan Torpey and Andrew van Heumen to step up to the challenge.

It’s the final match Brendan Shepherd is Castlemaine’s coach as the Magpies have appointed Michael Hartley for next season.

The Magpies will be desperate to mark their third win of the season and possibly derail South’s run to the finals.

Castlemaine put in a great effort against Sandhurst last round, especially to win the third quarter, 16-3.

Bring that level of commitment and intensity and the Magpies can  put plenty of pressure on the Bloods.

Key players for Castlemaine include Bailey Henderson, Matt Filo, Ashton Frankling, Callum McConachy, Riley Pedretti, John Watson, and Liam Wilkinson.

After such an emphatic victory last round, Gisborne makes its way to Maryborough’s Princes Park.

The reigning premier cannot make finals, but will be keen to finish the season on a high and build momentum toward regaining its place as the league’s number one.

Gisborne has one of the competition’s best on-ball divisions in ruckman Braidon Blake, Brad Bernacki and Flynn Lakey.

The return of Jarrad Lynch is a huge plus for premiership-winning coach Rob Waters who has taken charge the past two rounds and been appointed coach for the ’24 campaign.

A talented Gisborne team includes captain Jack Reaper, Matt Merrett, Sam Graham, Harry Luxmoore and Liam Spear.

Been another tough run for Maryborough.

A young Magpies’ team coached by Coby Perry will again give its all.

Players to watch for the Borough include Joel Swatton, Matt Johnston, Kya Lanfranchi, Darcy Bond, Brady Neill and Jake Postle.

It’s been 22 years since Kangaroo Flat beat Golden Square.

One of the longest winning streaks in Bendigo FNL history is likely to roll on as the Bulldogs tackle the Roos at Fur Life Oval in Golden Square’s Wade Street.

Regardless of what happens at the QEO, Golden Square coach Christian Carter will want to see a ruthless approach from his team.

The Bulldogs marked a hard-fought 51-47 at Eaglehawk last round.

Captain Jack Geary, Ryan Hartley, Ricky Monti and Tom Toma are likely to create plenty of scoring chances for the likes of Joel Brett, Jack Stewart and Braydon Vaz.

The Dogs also have the run and skill of Jake Thrum, Jack Threlfall, Brodie James and Hamish Morcom.

Massive test for the Jeremy Hayes-coached Kangaroos.

There have been plenty of positive signs for the Roos throughout the season.

A high was the three-point win against Eaglehawk in the sixth round.

Players to watch for the Roos on Square’s turf include Liam and Mitch Collins, rover Mitch Trewhella, Nic Keogh, Luke Foreman and Ethan Roberts in attack.

Huge challenge for Zac Rouse, Liam and Ryan O’Keefe in Kangaroo Flat’s defence.

Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:

Sandhurst 228 per cent, 62 points; Golden Square 237, 60; Eaglehawk 198, 46; Strathfieldsaye 159, 44; South Bendigo 127, 36; Kyneton 82, 36; Gisborne 118, 28; Kangaroo Flat 59, 20; Castlemaine 40, 8; Maryborough 19, 0.

Leaders in the goalkicking race for the Ron Best Medal:

87 Lachlan Sharp, Strathfieldsaye.

76 Joel Brett, Golden Square.

60 Brock Harvey, South Bendigo.

52 Steven Stroobants, South Bendigo.

44 Lachlan Wright, Sandhurst.

38 Will Keck, South Bendigo.

34 Lewin Davis, Eaglehawk.

34 Cameron Manuel, Kyneton.

30 Braydon Vaz, Golden Square.

29 James Schischka, Strathfieldsaye.

26 Andy Collins, Sandhurst.

26 Jack Stewart, Golden Square.

25 Matt Thornton, Sandhurst.

24 Thomas Quinn, Kyneton.

24 Harry Whitty, Kangaroo Flat.

23 Ryan Hartley, Golden Square.

22 Nick Stagg, Sandhurst.

21 Hamish Morcom, Golden Square.

21 Noah Wheeler, Eaglehawk.

20 Darcy Richards, Eaglehawk.

20 Baxter Slater, Strathfieldsaye.

20 Tom Toma, Golden Square.

18 Brad Bernacki, Gisborne.

18 Jed Brereton, Strathfieldsaye.

18 Ethan Foreman, Kyneton.

18 Harry Luxmoore, Gisborne.

18 Matt Merrett, Gisborne.

17 Cam McGlashan, Eaglehawk.

16 Sam Conforti, Sandhurst.

16 Zac Denahy, Gisborne.

16 Billy Evans, Eaglehawk.

16 Jack O’Shannessy, Eaglehawk.

16 Jordan Wilson, Strathfieldsaye.

15 Luke Ellings, Gisborne.

15 Liam Marciano, Eaglehawk.

15 Jake Summers, Kyneton.

14 Jack Hickman, Golden Square.

14 Nic Keogh, Kangaroo Flat.

14 Cobi Maxted, Sandhurst.

14 Callum McCarty, Strathfieldsaye.

14 Zavier Murley, Golden Square.

13 Liam Collins, Kangaroo Flat.

13 Dylan Hird, Eaglehawk.

13 Brad Keogh, Castlemaine.

13 Sam Langley, South Bendigo.

13 Jack Reaper, Gisborne.

13 Matt Wilkinson, Sandhurst.

12 Sam Barnes, Kangaroo Flat.

12 Liam Barrett, Golden Square.

12 Braidon Blake, Gisborne.

12 Luke Foreman, Kangaroo Flat.

12 Kallen Geary, Eaglehawk.

12 Bailey Henderson, Castlemaine.

12 Tom Strauch, Golden Square.