HDFNL Football Grand Final | Preview | Saints fight Blues for premiership glory


HEATHCOTE or Mount Pleasant will be the Heathcote DFNL senior footy premiers of ’23 after Saturday’s grand final showdown at Huntly’s Strauch Reserve.

The neighbouring clubs and fierce rivals are aiming to break a premiership drought, but also mark a return to the top after some lean years when they clash from 2.20pm.

At selection Mount Pleasant sprung a surprise by naming gun forward and co-coach Ben Weightman in its line-up.

A back injury has kept Weightman on the sidelines as Mounts fought its way from an elimination final.

As Weightman was included, Nick Edwards went out of the line-up which beat White Hills in last Saturday’s preliminary final by four points.

A Blues team jointly coached by brilliant on-baller Adam Baird and Weightman put Leitchville Gunbower, North Bendigo and then White Hills out of the premiership race.

There’s also a change to Heathcote’s team which won the second semi.

Brayden Klemke injured his hamstring and was not named in the grand final line-up.

Victor Butler was brought in.

Although it won both of the home-and-away clashes with Mount Pleasant by nine and four points, Heathcote will be primed for another fierce contest as the stakes are so much higher.

There are so many crucial match-ups.

Heathcote’s defence led by William Direen, Ben Connelly and captain Codie Price is up against Ben Weightman, Mitchell Bennett and Fletcher White.

The Blues also have Mitch Rovers and Adam Baird capable of doing damage when resting in the forward 50m arc or charging from stoppages and midfield contests.

A crucial battle will be in the ruck where the athletic and versatile Braden Padmore is likely to start against Mounts’ captain Chris Down.

The Saints have Sam Cheatley medallist and ruck-rover Liam Jacques in top form, along with the likes of Thomas Pain and Jesse Davies.

One of several recruits from Wallan, Corey Grindlay’s high leaps and accurate goalkicking have played a big part in Heathcote’s run to the grand final.

Big test for whoever Mount Pleasant puts against Grindlay, and also the strong marking Shannon Dowsett.


B:Joseph Beedle, William Direen, Will Long.

Hb: Connor Hamilton, Ben Connelly, Codie Price.

C: Mitchell McLean, Callum Birch, Rhys Bolton.

Hf: Jordan Cavallaro, Shannon Dowsett, Henry McCarthy.

F: Victor Butler, Corey Grindlay, Liam Birch.

Foll: Braden Padmore, Liam Jacques, Thomas Pain.

Inter: Billy Price, Lachlan Inness, Lachlan Freeman-Taber, Jesse Davies.

Coach: Andrew Saladino.

Mount Pleasant:

B: Daniel Whiting, Michael Whiting, Mitchell Bennett.

Hb:Sam Greene, Bailey White, Tyler McNamara.

C: Pat O’Brien, Bryce Hinneberg, Zebb Murrell.

Hf: Mason Wakefield, Chris Down, William Wallace.

F: Fletcher White, Ben Weightman, Jack McKenzie.

Foll: Adam Baird, Mitch Rovers, Riley McNamara.

Inter: Coby Dunlop, Zach Charles, Caelan Smith, Connor Moore.

Coaches: Adam Baird, Ben Weightman.

Saturday’s showdown will be the ninth time Heathcote and Mount Pleasant have met in a HDFNL senior footy grand final.

The record stands at 6-2 in favour of the Mountain Men.

Highs for the Blues against the Saints include the premiership hat-trick of ’93 to ’95.

In ’82, Heathcote beat Mounts to deny the Blues a fourth consecutive premiership.

Runner-up last season, Mounts are aiming to end a premiership drought stretching back to 2006 and also claim a 20th flag.

It’s Heathcote’s  first grand final appearance since 2011.

The seventh of the Saints’ premierships was in 2010 against Lockington Bamawm United.

In the reserves it will be White Hills against North Bendigo from 11.20am.

These teams met in the qualifying final where the Demons beat the Bulldogs by a goal.

Best for White Hills in that match were Doolan Nihill, Liam Monaghan, Samuel Lowes and Ryan Clark.

A week later and the Demons were first to the grand final as they beat Mount Pleasant in the second semi-final by two points.

The Damien Webb-coached Bulldogs bounced back to win the first semi against Huntly by 28 points and then marked a three-goal victory in the preliminary final against Mount Pleasant.

Players to watch for White Hills include Jayden Sheehan who earned the Tom Morgan Medal as this season’s fairest and best players.

Sheean is also co-coach of the Demons team with Lachlan Sawyer.

The Demons also have captain Nicholas Wharton, James Avery, Matt Cox and Rohan Cadzow.

Among the key players for North Bendigo are Jonas Somerville at centre half-forward, the pacy and skilful Zaiyden Richards and Bailey Wingrave, experienced Pat Bogers, Tyler Kinder, Tyler Bird  and Ryan Gow.

The Towers twins, Jack and Tyson will also be determined to join the premiers club.

t was one-all in the home-and-away series between the Demons and Bulldogs.

White Hills won 79-73 in the seventh round at Winslow Constructors Oval, and the Bulldogs won 83-51 at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street in the 16th round.

White Hills:

James Avery, Mitchell Griffin, Isaac Griffin, Jayden Sheean, Ethan Arnold, Josh Harris, Doolan Nihill, Liam Monaghan, Patrick Blood, Reilley Porter, Matthew Cox, Blake Hogan, Hamish Goggin, Nicholas Wharton (captain), Joe Gardy, Tom Parkinson, Riley Beard, Chris Wild, Ryan Clark, Rohan Cadzow, Xavier Meersbergen, Fraser Banfield, Aaron Schofield.

North Bendigo:

Tyler Kinder (captain), Adam Wild, Jonas Somerville, Ryan Gow, Jack Towers (captain), Tom Tavaga, Zaiyden Richards, Tyson Towers, Lucas Keating, Jayden McCaroll, Pat Bogers, Bailey Wingrave, Sam Demeo, Aaron Leahy, Harlan Draper, Daniel Love, Denzel Cooper, Lewis Thomas, Justin Moon, Travis Robertson, Michael Thompson, Tyler Bird.

Grand final day kicks off with the under-18s match between North Bendigo and the Harlowe Huntly Hawks at 9.30am.

Defeated just once in the home-and-away series the Storm Giri-coached North Bendigo won the second semi against White Hills by 19 points.

Jett Grundy, Will Gilmore and Senna Marsili won plenty of the footy in that match.

It’s been an incredible run by a Huntly team coached by Aaron Wheelhouse and Mitch Billings in this finals series.

The Hawks won the elimination final against LBU by 37 points, the first semi against Heathcote by 15 points, and then beat White Hills in the preliminary final by 19 points.

In this season’s meetings, North Bendigo beat Huntly by 78 points in round four.

Next match in the 13th round at Strauch Reserve was much closer.

The Dogs led 56-33 at three quarter-time, but Huntly won the last, 16-6.

Key players for North Bendigo include Brandyn Barilari, Bailey Hird and Mason Lane.

There’s also two sets of brothers in action for the red, white and blue – Jack and Harry Pysing, and Finn and Max Paetow.

Players to watch for Huntly include Archer Billings, Hunter Connors, Drew Costigan, Judd Gilchrist, Kade Kalms, Deacon Wheelhouse, and captain Ethan Oaten.

North Bendigo:

Corey May, Jack Pysing, Reece Mitchell, Brodie Reaper, Finn Paetow, Jimmy Webb, Mason Lane, Brandyn Barilari, Max Paetow, Charlie Williamson, Samuel Burns, Will Gilmore, Jett Grundy, Jonty Hobbs, Harper Hodgens, Harry Pysing, Bailey Hird, Senna Marsili, Noah Filo, Lincoln Smith, Oliver Kean, Lucas Jackson.


Daniel Artavilla, Hunter Connors, Jack Cook, Deacon Wheelhouse, Archer Billings, Patrick Henderson, Mitchell Lawrence, Judd Gilchrist, Marcus Dunstone, Jackson Musgrove, Kori Crothers, Thomas Miller, Nathaniel Keune, Dylan Wilson, Kade Kalms, Josh Trotter, Ethan Oaten (captain), Drew Costigan, Felix Barber, Jack Morrow, Jett Rowell, Ben Miller.