Dragons faces Square in clash for Ron Best Shield

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A SHIELD to honour goalkicking legend Ron Best will be played for as Sandhurst and Golden Square meet in Saturday’s third round of the Bendigo Bank Bendigo Football Netball League’s senior footy action.

The unbeaten Dragons and Bulldogs meet at Queen Elizabeth Oval.

A gun full-forward throughout the late 60s, across the 70s and early 80s, Best kicked 1624 goals in 16 seasons.

He had a major impact at Golden Square and later at Sandhurst.

As an 18-year-old, Best passed the century mark in the ’68 season for Square.

Among the many highs of his career was captain-coach of Sandhurst to a premiership victory in 1973.

He played a key role in Sandhurst’s grand final win in 1977.

Best also played in premierships with Golden Square, Boort, and Northern United.

He was inducted to the Bendigo Sports Star of the Year Hall of Fame.

Away from football, Best was a successful businessman and politician.

Best passed away last October.

Many of his former team-mates from Sandhurst, Golden Square and Northern United are likely to reunite at Saturday’s game to honour the goalkicker who by stats alone was the best.

For the Dragons and Bulldogs of 2021 there is plenty at stake.

Sandhurst scored a brilliant win at Strathfieldsaye on Good Friday, outplayed Maryborough on the QEO and then had a bye.

The Dragons go into this contest with co-captain and key onballer/forward Nick Stagg.

There have been plenty of outstanding performers in the opening two games for the Dragons.

In just his second game for the club, Mitch Rovers kicked five goals in Sandhurst’s latest victory.

Rovers looms as a major threat to the Bulldogs defence, along with marking targets Matt Thornton and Jed Zimmer.

A highlight will be the ruck duels where Chris Down takes on Golden Square’s Matt Compston.

In defence, Sandhurst has Liam Ireland, Tanner Nally and Noah Walsh opposed to the in-form Jayden Burke, Paul Symons and Jake Thrum.

The race for the Ron Best Medal for leading goalkicker is led by Thrum on 12.

Major strength of Square is onball where Jack Geary, Hamish Morcom and Ryan Hartley win a lot of the ball.

The play of Lee Coghlan, Blair Holmes and James Coghlan will be crucial for Sandhurst.

At selection, the Bulldogs brought in Jack Hickman, Ricky Monti, J. Brett, and Jon Coe.

A Bulldogs’ defence led by Will Lee, Zane Keighran and Liam Barrett worked hard against the strong Gisborne attack last round.

Gisborne will aim to bounce back from defeat when it hosts Kangaroo Flat at Gardiner Reserve.

It’s a daunting task for a young Roos line-up coached by James Flaherty.

Ins for Gisborne include classy forward/midfielder Ethan Foreman in his first game for the club.

Foreman kicked 58 goals in Kyneton’s run to the BFNL finals in 2018.

He was named in a forward pocket in an attack led by captain Pat McKenna and Jack Scanlon.

Other ins for Gisborne are Trent Crosbie, Josh Kemp and Scott Walsh.

Out of the team are Seb Bell-Bartels, Darren Farrugia and Tim Walsh.

There have been plenty of changes at Flat.

Ins include Hamish Lockhart at full-forward, Ryan O’Keefe, Lachlan Tranter, and Ben Xiriha on a wing.

Daniel Dempster, Hakeem Johnson, Hayden McSwain and Dane Spear are out.

There are big challenges for many in the Roos line-up.

Jake Hywood was named at full-back against McKenna, McHugh at centre half-back to take on Scanlon, and Nick Lang in the ruck against Braidon Blake.

A powerful Gisborne team includes Jack Reaper at full-back, Jake O’Brien on a wing, ruck-rover Brad Bernacki, and Jarrad Lynch.

The Michelsen medallist in 2015 as league fairest and best, Brodie Filo marks a return to the Eaglehawk team to take on Castlemaine at S & R Park in Canterbury Park.

After a busy summer in which he played in Nightcliff’s premiership victory in Darwin, Filo has had a hard-earned rest.

The Filo family has achieved many amazing feats in Bendigo FNL history.

Brodie’s father, Derrick was the Michelsen medallist in ’91, a premiership star with Castlemaine, and later multiple premiership-winning coach with Eaglehawk.

On the rebound from a one-point loss to South Bendigo, the Hawks go into this match without Brenton Conforti.

Players to watch for the Two Blues include Billy Evans, Noah Wheeler, Lewin Davis, Darcy Richards, Shaun Knott and Sam  Harper.

Castlemaine has brought in Zane Doherty at centre half-back, and Jordan Cochrane at half-back.

The Don Moran-coached Magpies face another big test.

Players to have impressed for Castlemaine include Riley Pedretti, John Watson, Liam Wilkinson, Will Moran, Brodie Byrne, Klai Jermyn and David Stephens.

In eighth place and a 0-2 record, Strathfieldsaye Storm will be fired up against Maryborough at Triple M Park in Tannery Lane.

Storm’s ins include Caleb Ernst in the ruck, Lincoln White at half-forward, Nick Higginson and Jack Neylon.

A multiple winner of the Ron Best Medal, Storm star Lachlan Sharp has often had a day out against Maryborough.

The Pies have named Daniel Vadala at full-back.

Storm’s ability to run and link from half-back through midfield will test the Pies on the big ground.

Players to watch for Storm include Jake Hall, Caleb Sheahan, Kellan Smith, Jake Moorhead and Jye Formosa.

Maryborough has named a ‘from’ interchange of nine.

Ins for the Magpies include Aidan Hare af half-back, Lachlan Hull at half-forward, Lachlan Butler on a wing, and Harrison Monk at full-forward.

The Magpies’ attack is led by Jayden Templeton, while Matt Bilton and Bailey Edwards starred in last week’s victory.

Kyneton is back under the lights at Kyneton Showgrounds to take on the in-form South Bendigo.

The Paul Chapman-coached Kyneton struck back from a disappointing first-round performance to win at Kangaroo Flat by 75 points.

Tigers’ big men Jordan Mangan, Guy Dickson and James Orr were in form.

Kyneton will again look to midfielders Rhys Magin, Angus Nolte, James and Ned O’Sullivan to set up plenty of attacks.

The Tigers also have Cameron Wallace, son of Hawthorn premiership star and former Western Bulldogs and Richmond coach Terry, in great form.

South Bendigo has made two changes to the team which beat Eaglehawk by a point at the QEO.

Andrew Vanheumen is in defence, and Joel Swatton at half-forward.

They replace Brock Harvey and Mitch Goodwin.

The Nathan Horbury-coached Bloods will be keen to build on the momentum of last week’s victory in which recruits Cooper Leon, Oscar White, Oliver Simpson and Michael Herlihy led the way.

A talented line-up includes Horbury as rover, Kaiden Antonowicz, Sunny Brazier and Will Keck in attack, Tom Brereton, Daniel Nalder and Zac Hare in defence.

A young Blood to watch is Wil McCaig, son of Bendigo International Madison CEO Rik, and grandson of cycling great Frank.

Wil is one of several young Bloods keen to make their mark this season and beyond.

The Tigers and Bloods do battle from 5.30pm.

Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:

Sandhurst 220 per cent, 8 points; Golden Square 199, 8; South Bendigo 183, 8; Eaglehawk 162, 4; Maryborough 107, 4; Gisborne 93, 4; Kyneton 81, 4; Strathfieldsaye 91, 0; Kangaroo Flat 29, 0; Castlemaine 24, 0.

Written by Nathan Dole

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