Bloods fight Dragons for Graeme Wright Memorial Cup

THERE’S more than premiership points up for grabs when South Bendigo’s senior footy team takes on Sandhurst in this Saturday’s third round of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League season.

The Bloods and Dragons will clash for the Graeme Wright Memorial Cup in the clash of the QEO co-tenants.

Both teams go into Anzac Round on a 0-2 record.

The Graeme Wright Memorial Cup honours one of South Bendigo’s greatest clubmen.

A 144-game career for the talented defender was cut short by knee injuries, but Wright’s influence on and off the field was significant.

In a 27-year stint with the club he took on the senior coaching role, was a key player and later coach of the Bendigo FNL inter-league team, and also did plenty for the Bloods’ junior program.

The Nathan Horbury-coached Bloods will be desperate to get their hands on the Graeme Wright Memorial Cup by 5pm on Saturday.

Injuries and illness have rocked South Bendigo which is keen to hit back after defeats from Golden Square on the QEO and then at Eaglehawk.

The Bloods do regain Kaiden Antonowicz, a previous winner of the Ron Best Medal as the league’s leading goalkicker for such a crucial clash.

Other notable inclusions for the Bloods are Zac Hare and Braydan Torpey in defence, and ruckman/forward Will Allen.

For the midfield and onball duels, South Bendigo has Bailey Hall, Cooper Leon, Horbury, Liam Byrne up against Hamish Hosking, Zach Pallpratt, Blair Holmes and Lee Coghlan.

Brock Harvey is the only multiple goalkicker the Bloods have had so far.

The play of Antonowicz, Michael Herlihy and Alex Smith will be important in South’s forward 50.

Although winless, the Ash Connick-coached Sandhurst has shown plenty in clashes at Gisborne and then on the QEO against Strathfieldsaye.

The Dragons have talented youngsters such as Noah Walsh, James Mittell, Lachlan Zimmer, Cobi Maxted and Sean O’Farrell who win plenty of contests.

Sandhurst also has the experience of Alex and Joel Wharton, Jake McLean and Brodie Montague.


After breaking a long-running winless streak, Castlemaine makes the trek to Gisborne’s Gardiner Reserve.

It’s a huge challenge for the Don Moran-coached Magpies who will be desperate to perform well in every quarter.

Key players for Castlemaine include Bailey Henderson, Tommy Horne, John Watson and Liam Wilkinson.

After a seven-goal haul in the win on Maryborough’s turf, Jack Chester will again be the key target in the Maine’s attack.

Just how to curb the impact Bulldogs’ onballer Brad Bernacki has on this match will have occupied plenty of time for Castlemaine’s coaching staff and players.

A powerful Gisborne onball division includes Braidon Blake in the ruck, Flynn Lakey, Scott Walsh and Nic Doolan.

Up forward, Jack Scanlon and Pat McKenna are the marking targets and have the skilful Ethan Foreman, Matt Merrett and Matt Panuccio at ground level.


The unbeaten Strathfieldsaye plays Kyneton at Triple M Park in Strathfieldsaye’s Tannery Lane.

A key inclusion to Storm’s line-up is likely to be Kallen Geary who earned the AFL Victoria Country medal in Storm’s grand final victory in 2019.

Geary is a four-time premiership-winning player at Storm.

A talented Strathfieldsaye team includes Lachlan Sharp and James Schischka in attack, onballers Jake Moorhead and Jye Formosa, ruckman Caleb Ernst, and a defence that includes Ben Lester, Lachlan Ratcliffe and Fergus Payne.

Kyneton put in a brilliant first term under lights at Tigerland against Gisborne, but was then overrun by the Bulldogs.

The Paul Chapman-coached Tigers have Rhys Magin, Guy Dickson and Ryan Pretty leading the attack.

Other key players for Kyneton include Harrison Huntley and Frazer Driscoll in defence, Cameron Manuel in the centre, ruckman James Orr, and rover Dean Bartrop.

A ‘from’ interchange includes Louis Thompson and Cameron Wallace.


Kangaroo Flat takes on Eaglehawk at Dower Park.

The Roos have a 1-1 record and will be keen to bounce back from a big defeat inflicted by Golden Square.

A talented onball brigade for the Roos is led by captain Nic Lang in the ruck and includes Liam and Mitch Collins, and Mitch Trewhella.

In his return to the club, Mitch Rovers has booted four goals and featured in a lot of attacks.

Players coach James Flaherty will look for to win their share of contests and apply a lot of pressure include Hakeem Johnson on a wing, Dane Spear and Jake Hywood in defence, Sam Barnes, Brodie Fry and Lachy Wilson in attack.

Eaglehawk has shown it will be a tough team to beat this season.

The Travis Matheson-coached Borough bounced back from a loss at Strathfieldsaye to blitz South Bendigo after quarter-time.

Darcy Richards has kicked a team-high nine goals and has great support in attack from the likes of Ben Thompson and Lewin Davis.

Best for the Hawks across two rounds include centreman Billy Evans, wingman Joel Mullen, Noah Wheeler and Clayton Holmes.


After hauls of seven and eight goals, Golden Square star Joel Brett could not double figures as the Bulldogs face Maryborough at Fur Life Oval in Wade Street.

The Christian Carter-coached Bulldogs have started ’22 in hot form.

Wingman Jake Thrum won plenty of the footy in the win against Kangaroo Flat as Jack Geary and Jayden Burke also starred.

The Dogs goes into this match without top ruckman Matt Compston.

Key players for the blue and gold include Jon Coe at centre half-back, ruck-rover Ryan Hartley, rover Terence Reeves, Liam Barrett and Hamish Morcom.

The Rick Andrews-coached Maryborough had confidence hit after Castlemaine’s final quarter blitz of eight goals to win by 50 points.

The Magpies have onballers Coby Perry and Aidan Hare in great form.

A defence that includes Dylan Harberger, Kya Lanfranchi, Lachie Mackie and Jayden Hooper will be busy.

Chris Freeman has kicked five goals to lead the Pies’ attack which also has Anthony Tatchell, Ty Stewart and Brady Neill aiming to finish off plays.


Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:

Golden Square 267 per cent, 8 points; Gisborne 201, 8; Strathfieldsaye 125, i8; Eaglehawk 128, 4; Kyneton 93, 4; Castlemaine 88, 4; Kangaroo Flat 80, 4; Sandhurst 71, 0; South Bendigo 52, 0; Maryborough 51, 0.


Leaders in the Ron Best Medal goalkicking award:

15 Joel Brett, GS.

9 Darcy Richards, Eh; Lachlan Sharp, S’saye.

8 Rhys Magin, Kyn.

7 Jack Chester, Cm; Brock Harvey, SB; Josh Kemp, Gis.

6 Jayden Burke, GS; Bailey Henderson, Cm; Ryan Pretty, Kyn.; James Schischka, S’saye.

5 Chris Freeman, Mb; Pat McKenna, Gis.

4 Guy Dickson, Kyn.; Ethan Foreman, Gis.; Tommy Horne, Cm; Cameron Manuel, Kyn.; Mitch Rovers, KF; Jack Scanlon, Gis.; Ben Thompson, Eh.

3 Brodie Byrne, Cm; Riley Clarke, S’saye; Lewin Davis, Eh; Mitchell Holt, KF; Callum McConachy, Cm; Matthew Merrett, Gis.; Hamish Morcom, GS; Matthew Panuccio, Gis.; Corey Roberts, Eh; Joel Wharton, Sh; Lachy Wilson, KF.


Written by Nathan Dole.