BY NATHAN DOLE
A WIN at Eaglehawk will bolster Kyneton’s finals credentials as the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL marks Indigenous Round on Saturday.
The match between the Hawks and Tigers at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park is feature match in a round where the league promotes an opportunity for education, and recognition of First Nations people and their contribution to our great game.
It’s not just premiership points on the line as the Hawks and Tigers senior footy and A-grade netball will vie for the Wirama Shield.
Best afield medals will also be presented.
For the first time this season the Travis Matheson-coached Eaglehawk is on the rebound from defeat after a 71-74 result on Kangaroo Flat’s ground at Dower Park.
Eaglehawk is strengthened by the return of former St Kilda captain Jarryn Geary at half-back, and by Kallen Geary at half-forward.
The Hawks also welcome back Sam Harper who spent last summer playing in the Northern Territory.
Harper was named at centre half-forward in an attack that includes Darcy Richards, Lewin Davis and Liam Marciano.
Key players for the Two Blues include co-captains Billy Evans and Cam McGlashan, Ben Thompson and Dylan Hanley.
The Paul Chapman-coached Kyneton had fought back from a 0-3 start by winning its most recent games against Gisborne, away, and Maryborough, home.
Last Saturday’s match against Castlemaine was declared a draw following its abandonment after the death of Castlemaine’s under-18s player Dallas Keogh-Frankling.
The Tigers are on 10 premiership points.
Key players for Kyneton include Harrison Huntley at full-back, captain James Orr in the ruck, Hamish Yunghanns and Jake Summers.
The play of Cameron Manuel was crucial in the Tigers win at Gisborne.
The yellow and black also has Ethan Foreman and Thomas Quinn in attack, Mitch Comben and Lucas Iudcia in midfield, and Brady Muir at half-back.
On a 2-4 record, Gisborne faces a daunting task against the unbeaten Sandhurst.
A plus for Gisborne is on home turf at Gardiner Reserve, but the Bulldogs are yet to win there this season.
Quarter one will be a key focus for the Brad Fox-coached Gisborne after Golden Square led 49-7 at the first break of last Saturday’s game.
A massive blow for Gisborne is it being season over for premiership-winning captain and gun forward Pat McKenna after he broke his ankle in the loss at Golden Square.
Ruckman Braidon Blake and rover Flynn Lakey have starred for Gisborne all season.
The Bulldogs have recalled Harry Luxmoore to an attack that includes Zac Denahy and Matt Merrett.
Captain Jack Reaper will play a crucial role in defence, while the Bulldogs will look to Seb Bell-Bartels, Liam Spear and Zac Denanhy to win plenty of contests.
There’s plenty of run and scoring options in the Sandhurst line-up.
Jointly coached by Ash Connick, non-playing, and Bryce Curnow, playing, Sandhurst is in hot form.
The Dragons fired up to score 31 goals against Maryborough at Queen Elizabeth Oval last Saturday.
A tally of 35 disposals, 11 inside 50m, and three goals earned Sandhurst young gun Noah Walsh the Barry Plant Player of the Round award.
Sandhurst has the experience of Lee Coghlan, Andy Collins, Nick Stagg and Matt Thornton, and skilful youngsters such as Lachlan Wright, Matt Wilkinson and Lachie Hood.
Another big match will be at Strathfieldsaye’s Triple M Park in Tannery Lane where Storm faces Kangaroo Flat.
For a long time Storm has dominated clashes with the Roos.
It may not be so this time.
An 11-point win by Strathfieldsaye against South Bendigo last round improved Storm’s record to 3-3.
The Nathan Johns-coached Kangaroos are also 3-3 following a 74-71 victory to end Eaglehawk’s winning streak.
In-form players for Storm include Daniel Clohesy, Shannon Geary, Tim Hosking and Riley Wilson.
The Darryl Wilson-coached Strathfieldsaye has captain and multiple premiership-winner Lachlan Sharp to lead an attack that includes James Schischka and Baxter Slater.
Other players to watch for Storm are ruck-rover and Michelsen medallist Jake Moorhead, Luke Webb at half-back and the experienced Lachlan Bonney.
After such a stunning victory, Kangaroo Flat will be determined to keep the momentum going.
The Roos’ best against the Hawks were Ryan O’Keefe, Jordan Rouse and Liam Collins.
Among those to play key roles in this match will be Mitch Trewhella in the centre, Harry Whitty and Ethan Roberts across half-forward, Nick Keogh and Zac Rouse in defence.
Toby Balcke was named in the ruck, Dean Waterson at full-back, and Campbell Smith as rover.
The Castlemaine community is likely to be out in force as the Magpies host Golden Square at Camp Reserve.
It’s been an incredibly difficult week for Castlemaine following the passing of talented teen Dallas Keogh-Frankling.
The team for Saturday includes Dallas’ brother, Ashton in his 12th senior game.
The Magpies are up against one of the league’s strongest teams, so being competitive in every quarter will be a goal for the Brendan Shepherd-coached Castlemaine.
Key players for the Pies include Brodie and Jackson Byrne, Matt Filo, Ben McConachy, Ben Moran, John Watson and Liam Wilkinson.
The Christian Carter-coached Golden Square has a strong attack led by Ron Best medallist Joel Brett, Jayden Burke and Braydon Vaz.
Bulldogs’ captain Jack Geary just keeps on running, while Terence Reeves, Tom Toma, Ricky Monti and Ryan Hartley are part of a strong on-ball and midfield division.
Maryborough is on home turf at Princes Park to take on South Bendigo.
The Coby Perry-coached Magpies defence led by Kya Lanfranchi, Jake Postle and Josh Britten was under siege last round.
Now at Maryborough as an assistant coach, Joel Swatton will be up against his former club.
Key players for the Magpies include Ty Stewart in the ruck, Chris Freeman, Jai Howell in the centre, and Josh Britten at half-back.
Improved delivery to the forwards will be a goal for the Nathan Horbury-coached South Bendigo.
The Bloods won enough of the footy, but were let down by kicking efficiency in last week’s loss to Strathfieldsaye at Harry Trott Oval.
Number one ruckman Mac Cameron returns to the Bloods’ line-up.
An attack that includes Will Allen, Brock Harvey, Will Keck and Steven Stroobants will test the Magpies.
Others to watch for the Bloods include Brody Haddow in the centre, Oscar White on a wing, Cooper Leon, Braydan Torpey, Isaiah Miller and captain Zac Hare.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Sandhurst 24 points, 261 per cent; Eaglehawk 288, 20; Golden Square 190, 16; South Bendigo 107, 12; Strathfieldsaye 101, 12; Kangaroo Flat 88, 12; Kyneton 95, 10; Gisborne 103, 8; Castlemaine 32, 6; Maryborough 15, 0.
Leaders in the goalkicking race for the Ron Best Medal:
23 Joel Brett, Golden Square.
20 Lachlan Wright, Sandhurst.
18 Will Keck, South Bendigo.
15 Lachlan Sharp, Strathfieldsaye.
15 Steven Stroobants, South Bendigo.
15 Braydon Vaz, Kyneton.
13 Matt Thornton, Sandhurst.
12 Cameron Manuel, Kyneton.
12 Ryan Hartley, Golden Square.
12 James Schischka, Strathfieldsaye.
11 Cam McGlashan, Eaglehawk.
11 Thomas Quinn, Kyneton.
11 Darcy Richards, Eaglehawk.
10 Lewin Davis, Eaglehawk.
10 Brock Harvey, South Bendigo.