BY NATHAN DOLE
AFTER being perched on top of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder two weeks ago, Eaglehawk is now fighting to avoid a hat-trick of defeats in this Saturday’s eighth round.
The Hawks make their way to Fur Life Oval in Golden Square’s Wade Street to take on the Bulldogs.
A fortnight ago the Hawks were 5-0 and flying.
A three-point loss at Kangaroo Flat was followed by the 76-77 defeat from Kyneton in the feature match of Indigenous Round last Saturday.
Eaglehawk coach Travis Matheson will not hit the panic button just yet, but another loss will put a top-three berth in jeopardy.
The Christian Carter-coached Golden Square has the midfield depth and attacking power to test the Borough all match.
Last round the Bulldogs won 130-27 on Castleamine’s turf at Camp Reserve.
Last season’s Ron Best medallist for leading goalkicker, Joel Brett kicked seven goals at Castlemaine and looms as a huge threat.
The Bulldogs also have the marking power of Jayden Burke and Brayon Vaz, and the athletic Hamish Morcom capable of taking a speccy or two.
Eaglehawk’s back six includes Dylan Hanley, Charlie Laangford, Sam Thompson and Kallen Geary.
A triple premiership winner in his time at Strathfieldsaye, Kallen Geary has made a welcome return to the Hawks.
The Borough also regained Jarryn Geary after he called time on a 207-game career with St Kilda.
Jarryn has played six matches in his return to the Two Blues, but was not named in the 23 on Thursday night.
The Hawks’ attack includes co-captain Cam McGlashan, Darcy Richards, Lewin Davis and Dillon Williams.
Back at the Borough after a stint with Nightcliff in the NTFL last summer, Sam Harper will be up against his former club.
Another former Bulldog in Liam Marciano will also be in the Hawks’ forward line.
In the midfield it’s Golden Square’s Liam Barrett, Ryan Hartley and Zavier Murley taking on Dylan Hird, Ben Thompson and Joel Mullen.
Other players to watch for the Dogs are Matt Compston, captain Jack Geary, Ricky Monti and Tom Toma.
The Hawks’ on-ball division of ruckman Connor Dalgleish, Noah Wheeler and co-captain Billy Evans will play crucial roles.
South Bendigo is back at Harry Trott Oval in Kennington’s Neale Street to take on Gisborne.
The Nathan Horbury-coached South Bendigo has a 4-3 record and plenty to play for.
Win and the Bloods stay in touch with the top three, a loss and it’s place in the five is under threat.
In-form players for South Bendigo include wingman Oscar White, Will Keck and Brock Harvey in attack, Brody Haddow in the centre, and ruck-rover Cooper Leon.
A vital match-up will be in the ruck where the Bloods have Mac Cameron to take on Braidon Blake.
It’s been a tough run for Gisborne following last year’s premiership victory.
There have been plenty of changes to the team which is 2-5 and in eighth place.
Bulldogs’ coach Brad Fox has declared the team’s disposal to the forwards and inside 50m has to improve markedly.
Gisborne had plenty of the ball in a 17-point loss at home to Sandhurst last round.
The Bulldogs have Jed Denahy, Harry Luxmoore and Matt Merrett among the key targets in attack.
Other players to watch for Gisborne include rover Flynn Lakey, Liam Spear in the centre, captain Jack Reaper and Mack Lord in defence, and James Fox in midfield.
A hat-trick of wins has put the Paul Chapman-coached Kyneton in sixth place on a win-loss tally of 3-3 and a draw.
Kyneton is back at Tigerland to play Kangaroo Flat this Saturday.
The Tigers marked their best win of ’23 in last Saturday’s one-point thriller at Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park.
The Tigers will be without gun on-baller Cameron Manuel who was best afield against the Hawks.
Kyneton will look to wingman Mitch Comben, Lucas Iudica and Jake Summers to continue their great form.
The yellow and black also have the classy Thomas Quinn in midfield or closer to goal, Harrison Huntley in defence, James Orr in the ruck, Hamish Yunghanns as ruck-rover, and the experienced Ethan Foreman in attack.
Kangaroo Flat will aim to rebound from a disappointing hit-out last round.
After the high of beating Eaglehawk the Roos were beaten by 104 points at Strathfieldsaye.
Playing at Kyneton is always a tough test.
The Nathan Johns-coached Kangaroos will rely a lot on the play of Mitch Trewhella in the centre, key positon players Jordan and Zac Rouse, Ryan O’Keefe and Angus Grant.
The Roos will be without Harry Whitty who had kicked consecutive hauls of four goals.
Liam and Mitch Collins, Sam Barnes and Ethan Roberts are capable of winning plenty of disposals.
Footy and netball will be at Queen Elizabeth Oval on the King’s Birthday holiday weekend as Sandhurst faces Castlemaine.
Unbeaten and on top of the ladder, Sandhurst will be determined not to let standards slip.
Coached by Ash Connick, non-playing, and Bryce Curnow, playing, Sandhurst has many players fighting to hold or force their way into the best 22.
Key players for the Dragons include ruckman Hamish Hosking, Cooper Smith, James Coghlan and Lachlan Wright.
There’s also the experience and skill of Lee Coghlan, Andy Collins, Zach Pallpratt and Nick Stagg.
It will also be a big day for Dragons’ recruit Will Moran as he takes on his former club for the first time.
For the Brendan Shepherd-coached Castlemaine a major emphasis will be on pressure and workrate which it did well in last Saturday’s match against Golden Square.
Key players for the Magpies include Liam Wilkinson, Matt Filo, Callum McConachy, Riley Pedretti and Brodie Browne-Kerr.
It will be another emotional day for Ashton Frankling a day after the funeral service for his younger brother Dallas Keogh-Frankling who died suddenly after Castlemaine’s under-18s match at Kyneton.
Ashton was among the team’s best from a wing against Golden Square last round and will again wear number eight as a special tribute to his brother.
Maryborough is on home turf at Princes Park to take on Strathfieldsaye.
A daunting run for the Coby Perry-coached Maryborough rolls on as Storm has struck form in recent weeks.
Storm was 2-3 after five rounds, but hit back to win its past two matches.
A Michelsen medallist, dual Ron Best medallist and multiple premiership winner, Storm captain Lachlan Sharp has kicked plenty of goals against Maryborough.
Sharp will be eyeing another day out.
A tally of 45 disposals which included 25 contested earned Strathfieldsaye on-baller Callum McCarty the Barry Plant Player of the Round award for round seven.
A strong on-ball division for Storm includes Bode Stevens and Daniel Clohesy.
Nearing the 200-game mark with Strathfieldsaye, Shannon Geary shows no sign of slowing down.
Storm also has the experience of Lachlan Bonney and Luke Webb.
A Maryborough defence that includes Kya Lanfranchi, Jake Postle and Josh Britten has had plenty to do this season.
The Magpies’ work in and around stoppages will be vital and rely a lot on the play of Joel Swatton, ruckman Ty Stewart, Jai Howell and Oscar Tatchell.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Sandhurst 241 per cent, 28 points; Eaglehawk 243, 20; Golden Square 211, 20; South Bendigo 135, 16; Strathfieldsaye 121, 16; Kyneton 96, 14; Kangaroo Flat 73, 12; Gisborne 99, 8; Castlemaine 29, 6; Maryborough 16, 0.
Leaders in the goalkicking race for the Ron Best Medal:
30 Joel Brett, Golden Square.
23 Lachlan Sharp, Strathfieldsaye.
20 Will Keck, South Bendigo.
20 Lachlan Wright, Sandhurst.
18 Brock Harvey, South Bendigo.
18 Steven Stroobants, South Bendigo.
17 Cameron Manuel, Kyneton.
17 Braydon Vaz, Golden Square.
16 Matt Thornton, Sandhurst.
13 Ryan Hartley, Golden Square.
13 James Schischka, Strathfieldsaye.
12 Lewin Davis, Eaglehawk.
12 Thomas Quinn, Kyneton.
12 Darcy Richards, Eaglehawk.
11 Cam McGlashan, Eaglehawk.
11 Harry Whitty, Kangaroo Flat.
10 Dylan Hird, Eaglehawk.
10 Liam Marciano, Eaglehawk.