SHOWDOWN of the Bulldogs at Gisborne highlights this Saturday’s eighth round senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League.
It’s the unbeaten Gisborne at home on the Gardiner Reserve turf against Golden Square.
The attacks of both teams are among the competition’s best.
Gisborne has the athleticism of Pat McKenna and Josh Kemp.
After being on the sidelines for several weeks, McKenna marked his return by kicking 11 goals in the Indigenous Round win at Kangaroo Flat.
At ground level the Rob Waters-coached Gisborne has the likes of Matt Merrett, Matt Panuccio and Sam Graham.
After injuring his hamstring against South Bendigo, Ethan Foreman was named in the team to take on Square.
There will be plenty of pressure on the Golden Square defence of Will Lee, Jon Coe, Ricky Monti and Will Thrum.
Midfield battles will be vital where Gisborne has ruckman Braidon Blake, Brad Bernacki, Flynn Lakey and Seb Bell-Bartels in form.
They will take on Matt Compston who makes a welcome return from injury, Jack Geary, Jake Thrum and Terence Reeves.
The Gisborne defence led by Jack Reaper and Jaidyn Owen will look to limit the impact Joel Brett and Jayden Burke have on the contest.
Brett kicked 14 goals in the win against Castlemaine, and Burke booted five goals in a best on ground performance.
Other players to watch in the Golden Square attack include Tom Strauch, Brandon Vaz and Hamish Morcom.
Another big match will be just up the Calder at Kyneton Showgrounds where the Tigers take on Sandhurst.
A hat-trick of wins has lifted the Paul Chapman-coached Kyneton to the fifth rung on the ladder.
The Tigers are a win clear of the sixth-placed Sandhurst.
Kyneton followed up its round six win at home against Golden Square by scoring a long-awaited victory on Eaglehawk’s turf last round.
Key players in the yellow and black include Cameron Manuel, Hamish Yunghanns, Rhys Magin, Frazer Driscoll, Harrison Huntley and Louis Thompson.
The Ash Connick-coached Sandhurst showed what it’s capable of in the two-goal win at Golden Square to retain the Ron Best Memorial Shield in round five.
Key forward Matt Thornton marked a return to form by kicking five goals at Maryborough last Saturday.
Thonrton’s marking strength will be a major threat to the Tigers’ defence.
Other players who can set up or finish of the Dragons’ attacks include Alex and Joel Wharton, Lee Coghlan, Noah Walsh, Cobi Maxted and Zach Pallpratt.
After a fighting one-point win against South Bendigo at Queen Elizabeth Oval, Strathfieldsaye is back at Triple M Park in Tannery Lane to take on Kangaroo Flat.
Injuries have rocked Storm as Daniel Clohesy, Kallen Geary and Lachlan Sharp were all injured against the Bloods.
There is plenty of talent for co-coaches Darryl Wilson and Shannon Geary to call up.
Key forward James Schischka has had an outstanding season and will lead an attack that includes Baxter Slater, Fergus Payne and Lachlan Gill against the Roos.
On-ballers Jake Moorhead, Callum McCarty, Jake Hall and ruckman Tim Hosking will ensure there is plenty of supply to the forward line.
This match is another huge challenge for a young Kangaroo Flat line-up coached by James Flaherty.
The Roos will look for strong games in defence from Dane Spear, Jake Hywood and Brodie Fry, and for Nick Lang, Liam and Mitch Collins and Patrick Murphy to perform well at centre ball-ups and stoppages.
Targets in attack include Lachy Wilson, Mitch Rovers and Sam Barnes.
South Bendigo is back at Queen Elizabeth Oval to take on Maryborough.
The Bloods showed plenty of determined to almost upset Storm last round.
A huge plus is the return of on-baller Liam Byrne for this match.
In attack, Brock Harvey is South Bendigo’s most consistent player.
The Bloods also have the skilful Kaiden Antonowicz, Will Keck and Alex Smith capable of kicking plenty of goals.
Playing coach Nathan Horbury was among the best against Storm and was named on a half-back flank, but it’s the run the Bloods have through midfielders such as Oscar White, Matt Long, Jayden Sheean and Wil McCaig that will test the Magpies.
Gun on-baller Aidan Hare has had a superb season for Maryborough and is capable of winning plenty of contests.
Pies’ coach Rick Andrews will be keen to see the team capitalise on more scoring chances after they kicked eight goals against Sandhurst.
Chris Freeman led the way with three goals last Saturday, while the attack to take on the Bloods includes Brady Neill, Jayden Hooper and Postle.
Key players for Maryborough include Kya Lanfranchi, Coby Perry, Dylan Harberger and Anthony Tatchell.
Castlemaine is at Camp Reserve to face an Eaglehawk line-up on the rebound from defeat.
The Don Moran-coached Magpies will be aiming to up the defensive pressure and maintain it for longer against the Hawks.
Key players for Castlemaine include Liam Wilkinson, David Stephens at full-back, Tom Cain, Tommy Horne, Will Moran and Zac Denahy.
The Travis Matheson-coached Eaglehawk has plenty to play for in its fight to keep the heat on the third-placed Goldne Square.
Players to watch for the Two Blues include Billy Evans, Oscar Madden and Fraser Verhey in defence, Noah Wheeler, Liam Marciano, Darcy Richards and Ben Thompson.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Gisborne 330 per cent, 28 points; Strathfieldsaye 189, 24; Golden Square 261, 20; Eaglehawk 131, 16; Kyneton 107, 16; Sandhurst 121, 12; South Bendigo 87, 12; Kangaroo Flat 61, 8; Castlemaine 31, 4; Maryborough 21, 0.
41 Joel Brett, GS.
29 Pat McKenna, Gis.
27 Jayden Burke, GS.
24 Rhys Magin, Kyn.
21 Brock Harvey, SB.
20 Josh Kemp, Gis.; Cameron Manuel, Kyn.; Lachlan Sharp, S’saye.
19 Cobi Maxted, Sh.
16 Darcy Richards, Eh.
15 Braydon Vaz, GS; Joel Wharton, Sh.
14 Kaiden Antonowicz, SB; James Schischka, S’saye.
13 Liam Marciano, Eh; Matthew Merrett, Gis.; Jack Scanlon, Gis.; Lachy Wilson, KF.
12 Kallen Geary, S’saye; Ryan Pretty, Kyn.; Mitch Rovers, KF; Matt Thornton, Sh.
11 Chris Freeman, Mb; Ben Thompson, Eh.
10 Matthew Panuccio, Gis.
Written by Nathan Dole.