HDFNL Round 17 Football Preview | Saints face dogfight in Heathcote’s Pigeon Park


A CLASH of Saints and Bulldogs highlights Saturday’s 17th round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season when Heathcote hosts North Bendigo.

Heat will be high as first takes on second on Heathcote’s turf at Pigeon Park in Barrack Reserve from 2.30pm.

The ladder-leading Heathcote is unbeaten at home this season and the Rob Bennett-coached North Bendigo is one of just two teams who have beaten the Saints.

Among the leading contenders for the Sam Cheatley Medal as league fairest and best are Heathcote star Braden Padmore and North Bendigo midfielder Nic Waterson.

When these clubs met in round eight it was the Bulldogs who took charge in the third quarter on their way to a 98-81 victory at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street.

The Andrew Saladino-coached Saints have since won six in a row.

The league’s top two are stacked with plenty of scoring power, so pressure through the midfield and on-ball contests will be a priority.

Heathcote has Corey Grindlay and Shannon Dowsett back in the key posts in attack.

Although both missed several games through injury the Saints showed they have plenty of scoring avenues as Braden Padmore, Jackson Conforti, Liam Birch and Victor Butler were to the fore.

Huge test for a Bulldogs’ defence that includes Ryan Alford, Tim Devereaux, Matt Gray and Shane Harris.

Heathcote has defenders Will Direen, Ben Connolly, Brayden Klemke and captain Codie Price in hot form.

A powerful North Bendigo attack has the athleticism of Dylan Klemm and Cody Riddick, marking power of Jordan Ford, and skill of Hakeem Johnson and Billy Robertson at ground level.

Heathcote’s on-ball brigade of Lachlan Freeman Taber, Braden Padmore, Liam Jacques, Jesse Davies and Thomas Pain takes on the likes of Jeremy Lambden,
Aarryn Craig, Ben Knight, Manny Thalasinos and Nathan Newlan.

At selection, Heathcote regained tough on-baller Jesse Davies, and North Bendigo regained the versatile Jake Hall from injury.

Elmore is at home to face Lockington Bamawm United.

Big test for the Mick Woolhouse-coached Bloods as LBU must win to stay in touch with the top five and stay in the race to chase back-to-back premierships.

Elmore was outplayed in the first quarter of last Saturday’s match on Mount Pleasant’s turf at Toolleen, but hit back to win the second term, 30-21.

At the final siren the Bloods were 11.2 (68) as the Blues racked up 26.16 (172).

Nathan Kay kicked five goals in Elmore’s latest match and will be a threat to LBU’s defence, along with Darcy Laffy and Jacob Styles.

Key players for the Bloods include captain Rhys Holmberg, ruckman Daniel Russell, Nic Kellow, Jarrad Kyne, Jack Smith, Max Holmberg  and Hayden Trewick.

LBU applied plenty of pressure in last Saturday’s clash with Heathcote, but could not stop the Saints scoring 4.4 to just three behinds in the final term.

The Stacy Fiske-coached LBU has battled for consistency most of the season.

A talented line-up for the Cats includes Brodie Collins, Ben Holman, Max Johnson, Anthony McMahon, Jeremy Mundie, Tyler Phillips and Joseph Wolfe.

White Hills plays Huntly at Winslow Constructors Oval in Scott Street.

The Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt-coached Demons will be keen to hit back after a 21-point loss to North Bendigo.

Kaiden Antonowicz has kicked 56 goals in his first season with White Hills after a successful stint at South Bendigo.

Other targets in the Demons forward line include Jake Allport, James Davies, Cohen Kekich and Jake Miller.

Mitch Dole and Bayden Fallon are capable of winning many contests in midfield, along with Tom Brereton and Patrick Eefting.

Huntly is on the rebound from a 25-point loss at home to Leitchville-Gunbower.

The Hawks will also be determined to improve on a score of 4.2 when it played White Hills in the eighth round.

Lachy Wilson was superb for the Hawks as he kicked six goals last round.

Key players for the brown and gold include co-coaches Harry Whittle and Jayden Cordy, captain Steve Kairn, Mitch Billings and Kyle Forster.

Huntly will also look to Abe Sladden, Tori Ferguson, Jackson Fry, and Harry McCormick to play big games.

Leitchville Gunbower tackles Colbinabbin at Gunbower.

The Shannon Keam-coached Leitchville Gunbower has worked its way to the fifth rung on the ladder.

Wooden spooner in ’22, LG fought back from a 0-4 start to win eight of its next 11 matches.

The Bombers will start favourite to beat Colbinabbin and will then await the result of the round 18 match between Mount Pleasant and Lockington Bamawm United at Toolleen.

Should the Bombers win and LBU be beaten this Saturday then LG will have stitched up a finals berth.

Key players for Leitchville Gunbower include ruckman Jobee Warde, co-captains Hoby Bussey and Jye Keath, Chris Horman and Lachlan Sverns.

After kicking six goals in the win against North Bendigo, Oskar Smartt is back in the Leitchville Gunbower team.

Others to have played significant roles in LG’s run include Nathan McLellan, Zac Hislop and Tom Brereton.

Colbinabbin is back in action after the bye.

Been a tough season for the Jed Brain-coached Grasshoppers who have a win-loss tally of 3-10, and a draw.

Margins in five of Colbo’s defeats were seven points, three, 14, 13, and 13.

The Grasshoppers won their latest hit-out at Huntly by 10 goals as Ben Barton, Luke Moore, co-captains Will Lowe and David Price were best.

In the green and gold squad bound for Gunbower are Connor Aldous, Jai Carn, Laine and Logan Fitzgerald, Jude Ryan, and Stephen Tuohey.

Mount Pleasant has the bye.

Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:

Heathcote 146 per cent, 48 points; North Bendigo 134, 44; White Hills 139, 40; Mount Pleasant 156, 36; Leitchville Gunbower 92, 32; Lockington Bamawm United 103, 28; Colbinabbin 84, 14; Elmore 61, 10; Huntly 44, 4.

Leaders in the goalkicking race:

66 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.

56 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.

52 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.

46 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.

45 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.

40 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.

33 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.

32 Antony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.

30 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.

28 Liam Bartels, White Hills.

26 Braden Padmore, Heathcote.

23 Billy Hawken, Leitchville Gunbower.

23 Cody Riddick, North Bendigo.

20 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.

19 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.

19 Lachlan Sverns, Leitchville Gunbower.

18 Adam Baird, Mount Pleasant.

18 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.

17 Jed Brain, Colbinabbin.

17 Victor Butler, Heathcote.

17 Brodie Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.

17 Aarryn Craig, North Bendigo.

16 Liam Birch, Heathcote.

16 Jai Carn, Colbinabbin.

16 James Davies, White Hills.

16 Cohen Kekich, White Hills.

16 Tyler Phillips, Lockington Bamawm United.

15 Abe Sladden, Huntly.

14 Hakeem Johnson, North Bendigo.

14 Nathan Kay, Elmore.

14 Riley McIvor, Lockington Bamawm United.

14 Riley McNamara, Mount Pleasant.

14 Jacob Styles, Elmore.

13 Mitch Bennett, Mount Pleasant.

13 Clint Shields, Colbinabbin.

12 Liam Jacques, Heathcote.

11 Nic Warnock, White Hills.