HDFNL Round 18 Football Preview | Cats fight to stay in premiership race


REIGNING premier Lockington Bamawm United faces a must-win scenario in Saturday’s 18th round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season.

The LBU Cats make their way to Toolleen for a huge clash with Mount Pleasant.

Win and the Stacy Fiske-coached LBU regains its place in the top five and an elimination berth.

Defeat and it’s season over for the Cats and Leitchville Gunbower marks a run from wooden spooner in ’22 to be a finalist.

In round nine, LBU scored a 53-45 win against Mount Pleasant at Lockington’s Nichol Trading Oval.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride for the Cats in the second half of the season.

After a hat-trick of wins in rounds 11 to 13, LBU then endured a run of three consecutive defeats.

LBU struck back to win last Saturday’s match at Elmore by six goals.

Key players for the Cats include Anthony McMahon, Riley McIvor, Baxter Anderson, captain Brodie Collins, Tyler Phillips, Jesse Collins, Charlie Hinks and Ben Holman.

Massive test for the LBU defence in trying to limit the impact that Ben Weightman, Mitch Rovers and Mitch Bennett have in attack.

A Blues’ team jointly coached by gun on-baller Adam Baird and brilliant forward Ben Weightman includes William Wallace, Zeb Murrell, Riley McNamara, Fletcher White and Caelan Smith.

Heathcote and North Bendigo start the round in first and second place on 48 points.

The Saints and Bulldogs are separated by 1.46 per cent.

Heathcote makes its way to Huntly’s Strauch Reserve to tackle the Harlowe Huntly Hawks.

Last time these clubs met, Heathcote marked an 80-point win on its ground at Pigeon Park in Barrack Reserve.

The Andrew Saladino-coached Saints are also on the rebound from defeat for just the third time this season.

An attack that includes Corey Grindlay, Liam Birch and Braden Padmore is likely to be given plenty of scoring chances.

Stars in the Saints’ run to the top include ruck-rover Liam Jacques, Will Direen, Ben Connelly and Codie Price in defence, and wingman Joseph Beedle.

The Saints also have the versatility of Brayden Klemke and Jesse Davies.

Been a tough run for Huntly which was held to a score of 3.7 at White Hills last round.

Key forward Lachy Wilson has had a superb season and kicked 47 goals for the brown and gold.

Huntly’s defensive acts and workrate will be crucial against a slick Saints’ team.

Players to watch for the Hawks include co-coaches Harry Whittle and Jayden Cordy, Abe Sladden, ruckman Jackson Fry, and Mitch Billings and Kurt Forder in defence.

Huntly also has Ben Daley on a wing and Harry McCormick at half-forward.

North Bendigo is back at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street to take on Elmore.

The Rob Bennett-coached Bulldogs have lifted their form dramatically the past two rounds to beat White Hills and then Heathcote.

A highlight of the win at Heathcote was the incredible accuracy of scoring 21.2 to beat the Saints by six goals.

A talented Bulldogs’ attack includes Dylan Klemm, Jordan Ford and Cody Riddick.

There is also the X-factor of Hakeem Johnson.

Number one ruckman Jeremy Lambden has played a big part in the winning run, while Nic Waterson, Nathan Newlan and Billy Robertson won plenty of the footy last round.

The Bulldogs have promoted Will Gilmore from the under-18s for his first senior game.

In round nine the Bulldogs had to work hard for a 26-point win at Elmore.

The Mick Woolhouse-coached Elmore has blooded many youngsters in the second half of the season.

Last week the Bloods played well to lead at half-time of the clash with LBU before being outran in the second.

Darcy Laffy and Jacob Styles will be main targets in Elmore’s attack.

Captain Rhys Holmberg, Nathan Kay, Jordan Thomson and Jack Trewick played well last week.

A highlight will be the ruck duels where Daniel Russell takes on Jeremy Lambden.

The Bloods also have Nic Kellow, Mattia Curry and Mychael Baker in their line-up.

Colbinabbin is  home at M.J. Morgan Oval to tackle White Hills.

Previous meeting between these teams ended in a seven goal win for White Hills in its den at Winslow Constructors Oval.

Although it has a tally of just three wins and a draw, Colbinabbin has shown plenty of positive signs.

Last week’s 11-point loss to Leitchville Gunbower at Gunbower was the sixth time this year the Grasshoppers have been beaten by under 14 points.

Players to watch for the Jed Brain-coached Colbinabbin include Ben Barton, Aidan Basile, Jai Carn, Laine Fitzgerald, Jude Ryan and Clint Shields.

The Hoppers also have Connor Aldous, James Brain and Stephen Tuohey.

Massive test for the Grasshoppers defence in trying to stop Demons’ star Kaiden Antonowicz who has kicked 62 goals.

A talented line-up for the Demons includes Liam Bartels, Tom Brereton, Brady Childs, James Davies, Mitch Dole, Jake Miller, Nic Warnock, and co-coaches Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt.

Leitchville Gunbower has the bye.

Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:

Heathcote 136 per cent, 48 points; North Bendigo 135, 48; White Hills 151, 44; Mount Pleasant 156, 36; Leitchville Gunbower 93, 36; Lockington Bamawm United 106, 32; Colbinabbin 84, 14; Elmore 61, 10; Huntly 41, 4.

Leaders in the goalkicking race:

66 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.

62 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.

56 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.

50 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.

47 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.

44 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.

36 Antony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.

33 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.

32 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.

29 Liam Bartels, White Hills.

29 Braden Padmore, Heathcote.

26 Billy Hawken, Leitchville Gunbower.

25 Cody Riddick, North Bendigo.

23 Lachlan Sverns, Leitchville Gunbower.

22 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.

21 Cohen Kekich, White Hills.

20 James Davies, White Hills.

19 Aarryn Craig, North Bendigo.

19 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.

18 Adam Baird, Mount Pleasant.

18 Jed Brain, Colbinabbin.

18 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.

17 Victor Butler, Heathcote.

17 Jai Carn, Colbinabbin.

17 Brodie Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.

16 Liam Birch, Heathcote.

16 Riley McIvor, Lockington Bamawm United.

16 Tyler Phillips, Lockington Bamawm United.

16 Clint Shields, Colbinabbin.

16 Abe Sladden, Huntly.

15 Jacob Styles, Elmore.

14 Hakeem Johnson, North Bendigo.

14 Nathan Kay, Elmore.

14 Riley McNamara, Mount Pleasant.

13 Mitch Bennett, Mount Pleasant.

13 Liam Jacques, Heathcote.

13 Nic Warnock, White Hills.