IT’S Cats versus Bulldogs as Lockington Bamawm United takes on North Bendigo in Saturday’s ninth round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote District Football Netball League season.
Unbeaten and top of the ladder after last Saturday’s big win at White Hills, LBU will have home-ground advantage at Nichol Trading Oval in Lockington.
Two changes were made to the Brodie Collins-coached LBU team which dominated last Saturday.
Liam Main and Tom Holman are in for James McPhee and Jeremy Mundie.
A major strength of the Cats team is its goalscoring power.
There are plenty of avenues to goal for LBU as Jarrod Bacon, 22 goals; Thomas Leech, 19; James McPhee, 18; Lachlan Collins, 16; and Anthony McMahon, 12, lead the way.
Leading goalkickers for North Bendigo are Shane Harris, 18, and Dylan Klemm, 14.
LBU’s pressure to force turnovers and quick movement to the forward 50m arc has troubled all opponents.
Key players in LBU’s superb run include Jesse Collins, Patrick Gardiner, Jaron Bacon, Rhys Woodland, Lachlan Atherton and Tyler Phillips.
A star during his time at Eaglehawk, Ben McPhee is another major threat to North Bendigo’s chances.
The Bulldogs’ workrate must be high for all quarters.
North Bendigo has the experience of Aarryn Craig, Ryan Alford, Tom Metherell, Jordan Ford, Jonas Somerville, Sam Demeo and Brodie Thomson, but it will take a complete team effort to upset the Cats.
The marking power of Klemm, Harris and Clay Davies in attack is a huge plus for the Matt Dillon-coached North Bendigo.
Another big match will be at Tolleen where Mount Pleasant takes on Colbinabbin.
The Blues and Grasshoppers renew one of the league’s fiercest rivalries.
Both teams are locked on 16 points, but Colbo has a buffer of more than 50 per cent on Mounts.
A huge plus for Mount Pleasant is the return of Rhys Deacon who has kicked 12 goals in just two matches.
Blake Grant is out of the team which won at Heathcote last round.
The arrival of Adam Baird, the 2019 Michelsen medallist in the Bendigo FNL and multiple premiership-winning player for Golden Square has marked a dramatic turnaround in Mount Pleasant’s form.
Jointly-coached by Darren Walsh and Adam Baird, Mounts were 2-3 at round six.
The Blues have since struck back to beat North Bendigo at Toolleen and then Heathcote.
In-form players for Mount Pleasant include Liam Collins, Jesse Tuohey, Fletcher White and Michael Whiting.
Others who play key roles include Billy Mahony, Travis Baird, Dan Davie, Cameron Moore and Zebb Murrell.
The Julian Bull-coached Grasshoppers will be well and truly refreshed as they had the bye last round.
A Colbo victory and a North Bendigo loss would mean the Grasshoppers leap back to third on the ladder.
Key players for Colbo include Stephen Tuohey, Jed Brain and Hadleigh Sirett in attack, Nick Knight, Todd Clarke and Matt Riordan in defence, and onballers Lochlan Sirett, Lachlan Ezard and Laine Fitzgerald.
Elmore takes on Heathcote at Elmore Recreation Reserve.
In for the Dylan Friedberger-coached Elmore are Mattia Curry, Aloysio Ferreira and Jim Grogan.
Peter Harrision, Sam Lees, Tyler Oliver, Luke Price and Farren Priest are out of the Bloods line-up.
Key forward James Harney has had a great season and leads Elmore’s goalkicking race on 22.
The play of Joe Harney, Zack Holmberg and Zac Laffy in defence, Callan Wilson in the ruck, Mitch Cricelli, Ben Makepeace and Dylan Oaff in attack will be important as the Bloods eye win number three.
Four inclusions to Heathcote’s squad were Ryan Bailey, Joseph Langford, Darcy McLean and Matt Mikic, but the Saints will be without Jordan Cavallaro, Liam Edwards, Will Long and Rylie Merkel.
The Wayne Primmer-coached Saints will be just as desperate for a victory and to jump the Bloods on the ladder.
Key players for Heathcote include Kai Cavallaro, Jake Condon, Brayden Klemke, Jack Paisley, Billy and Codie Price.
Huntly faces a White Hills line-up on the rebound from its first defeat of the season.
A plus for the Hawks is being on home turf at Specialist Breeders Australia Oval in Strauch Reserve.
Huntly does regain plenty of quality for this contest as Jake, Luke and Ryan Semmel are back in action, along with Josh Harris and Luke Jones.
Out of the Hawks line-up which won at Leitchville are Zandyr Barilari, Lachlan Brook, Ben Daley, Bailey Jones and Taylor Smart.
Key players for the Stacy Fiske-coached Hawks include captain Steve Kairn and Jay McDonald in defence, Jaydon Cowling and James Fox in midfield, Flynn Campbell and Matt Jeffries in attack.
The Hawks will also look for big games from Jordan Formosa, Tyler Miles and Connor Aldous.
White Hills is likely to be bolstered by the return of coach Sam Kerridge and full-forward Jed Lamb for this match.
A tally of 54 goals has Lamb well clear of his rivals in the league’s goalkicking award.
A strong Demons’ attack includes captain Mitch Dole, Marc Millard and Matt Sawyer.
Some of White Hills best this season have been Patrick Eefiting in the centre, Lachlan Collihole in attack, Kaiden Skelton, Jack Fallon and Rhys Irwin.
Leitchville Gunbower has the bye.
Standings in the Heathcote DFNL’s senior football competition:
Lockington Bamawm United 306 per cent, 28 points; White Hills 185, 28; North Bendigo 106, 20; Colbinabbin 149, 16; Mount Pleasant 97, 16; Huntly 104, 12; Elmore 56, 8; Heathcote 70, 4; Leitchville Gunbower 33, 0.
Written by Nathan Dole.