FIERCE rivals and undefeated, Sandhurst and South Bendigo clash in Saturday’s fifth round of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy action.
The co-tenants at Queen Elizabeth Oval will be primed for another big contest.
The past five showdowns between these clubs have been won by Sandhurst.
South’s most recent win against the Dragons was by 30 points in the sixth round of the 2017 season.
The Nathan Horbury-coached South Bendigo showed plenty of skill and poise under pressure to beat Gisborne by 25 points in last Saturday’s clash on the QEO turf.
Six goals by Kaiden Antonowicz capped off the work of a Bloods midfield led by Tom Brereton and Cooper Leon, and the defensive efforts of Daniel Nalder, Brayden Torpey and Cameron Taggert.
Those six will all again play key roles against a hot Dragons line-up.
South has also shown it has more avenues to goal as Sunny Brazier and Michael Herlihy are in top form.
Sandhurst’s season kicked off with a 13-point victory on Strathfieldsaye’s turf at Triple M Park on Good Friday and was followed by wins against Maryborough, Golden Square and Kangaroo Flat.
Matt Thornton, Joel Wharton and Lachlan Zimmer led the attack in the win on the Kangaroos’ ground.
It’s a co-captain in and a co-captain out at Sandhurst as Nick Stagg returns, but Lee Coghlan will miss.
Thomas Calvert and Jed Zimmer were also named in the Dragons squad.
Players to watch for the Dragons include Chris Down in the ruck, Liam Ireland, Oscar McKinley and Noah Walsh in defence.
The experience and strength of Sandhurst players such as Blair Holmes, Brodie Montague and Jake McLean will test South, especially at centre ball-ups and clearances.
Kyneton and Eaglehawk do battle for the Pride Cup at Kyneton Showgrounds from 3pm.
The Tigers had to work hard for the points against Castlemaine as Guy Dickson, Hamish Govan and Bailey McGee led the attack in a five-goal victory.
The Paul Chapman-coached Kyneton faces a huge task against the Hawks.
Kyneton will rely a lot on the defensive skills of Harrison Huntley, James Ellis and Sam Foreman, the play of ruckman James Orr, and onballers Rhys Magin, James and Ned O’Sullivan to win plenty of contests.
Eight changes were made at Kyneton.
Ins for the Tigers include William Daly, Louis Phillips, Tom O’Sullivan, Louis Thompson and Josh Willmott.
Those who are out include the in-form Hamish Govan and Angus Nolte.
The Hawks regain Michelsen medallist Brodie Filo and Kobe Lloyd to strengthen a team which won at Maryborough by 113 points.
Darcy Richards has taken the lead for the Ron Best Medal for BFNL leading goalkicker on 17 goals.
A strong attack for the Two Blues includes Jack Dye, Lewin Davis, Riley Saunders and Shaun Knott.
Players to watch for Eaglehawk include Billy Evans, Joel Mullen, Koby Hommelhoff, Sam Harper, Sam Thompson and Riley McIvor.
Gisborne takes on Castlemaine at Gardiner Reserve.
The Bulldogs will be fired up after a loss to South Bendigo.
Gisborne played well in patches against the Bloods, but coach Rob Waters will be urging for greater consistency.
The Bulldogs regain captain and key forward Pat McKenna, along with Seb Bell-Bartels, Ben Eales, Tom Fraser and Lachlan Shore.
Outs at Gisborne are Anthony Belcher, Lachlan Crosbie, Ethan Foreman, Braden Spear and Tom Wood.
Two of Gisborne’s star recruits, ruckman Braidon Blake and midfielder Jake O’Brien take on their old club.
The Don Moran-coached Castlemaine showed plenty of fight against the Tigers and will be determined to up the pressure against the Bulldogs.
Key players for the Magpies include David Stephens, Jackson Hood and John Watson in defence, Liam Wilkinson and Klai Jermyn in attack.
Castlemaine will also look to Sam Nettleton in the ruck and on-ballers William Moran and Riley Pedretti to win as many centre ball-ups as they can.
Strathfieldsaye and Kangaroo Flat meet in Storm territory at Triple M Park in Tannery Lane.
Seven changes were made to the Storm line-up which won at Golden Square.
Ins for Storm are Tom Bennett, Zach Charles, Bailey Henderson, Tim Hosking, Jack Neylon, Ryley Taylor and Mason Wakefield.
Those on the sidelines include ruckman Caleb Ernst, Harry Conway, Jake Hall and Jordan Wilson.
The Kangaroos have brought in Kevin Clark, Kyle Franzini, Brayden Sheahan and Daniel Stagg for Tom Gillespie, Sam Mitchell, Lachlan Tranter and Dane Spear.
Storm star Lachlan Sharp, a multiple winner of the Ron Best medal is equal second in this season’s race on 15 goals.
The James Flaherty-coached Kangaroo Flat will again look to captain and ruckman Nick Lang, Mitch Trewhella, James Hywood, Brodie Fry, Nathan McHugh and Ben Xiriha to win plenty of contests.
Maryborough meets Golden Square at Barkers Oval in Princes Park.
Ins for the Magpies are Matt Bilton, Lachlan Butler, Ashley Humphrey, Liam Murphy and Brady Neill.
A massive blow for Maryborough is star forward Jayden Templeton, equal third in the league goalkicking race on 12, being out.
Golden Square made five changes.
Drew Barrett, Harry Donegan, Callum Draper, Jack Merrin and Dean Norris are in for Liam Barrett, Jayden Burke, Jon Coe, Liam Duguid and Zane Keighran.
The Bulldogs attack is led by Jake Thrum, 15 goals, and the skilful Joel Brett booted six last week against Storm.
In-form players in the blue and gold include Ryan Hartley, Will Lee and Terence Reeves.
Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:
Sandhurst 199 per cent, 16 points; South Bendigo 149, 16; Eaglehawk 380, 12; Golden Square 134, 8; Strathfieldsaye 131, 8; Gisborne 128, 8; Kyneton 94, 8; Maryborough 57, 4; Kangaroo Flat 25, 0; Catlemaine 24, 0.
Written by Nathan Dole