BY NATHAN DOLE
LAST season’s preliminary finalists, Lockington Bamawm United and Colbinabbin meet in Saturday’s fourth round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFL season.
Both line-ups have changed markedly since their showdown last August which LBU won 66-41 at White Hills to advance to the grand final.
The Cats will be favourites in this match which starts at Lockington at 2.30pm.
With Stacy Fiske having crossed from Huntly to coach the Cats, LBU hit back from a second-round defeat at North Bendigo to win last Saturday’s match at Huntly by 72 points.
Premiership-winning coach Brodie Collins has made a great start to the season for LBU, as has Jesse Collins.
They combined to kick eight goals as the Cats beat the Hawks.
Dual Cheatley medallist as league fairest and best, Tyler Phillips is superb in the ruck duels.
Other players to watch for LBU include Thomas Douglas, Max Johnson, Riley McIvor, Ben Holman and Baxter Anderson.
Colbinabbin has a one-two record, but gains a huge lift as coach Jed Brain will be on-field after serving a three-match suspension.
Among the changes to the Colbo line-up are Ben “Big Boy” McEvoy and Peter McEvoy being out after a special “one-off” match with their brother, Matt against Mount Pleasant.
Despite the appearance of the McEvoys before a huge crowd at M.J. Morgan Reserve, Colbo could not halt the Blues’ run to a 102-53 victory.
The leap of young ruckman Jasper McArdle has impressed in Colbinabbin’s play.
McArdle faces a huge challenge against Phillips.
Other key players for the green and gold include Laine Fitzgerald, Ben Barton, Luke Moore, Connor Aldous, and co-captains Will Lowe and David Price.
Elmore takes on White Hills in the battle of the Bloods and Demons at Elmore Recreation Reserve.
The Dylan Friedberger-coached Elmore has a two-one record following a 25-point win against Leitchville Gunbower at Leitchville.
Masssive challenge for Elmore’s defence will be trying to limit the impact of White Hills gun forward Kaiden Antonowicz who kicked nine goals in the Demons win against Heathcote.
The onus will be on the Bloods’ on-ballers and midfielders to try and affect the quality and volume of supply to the White Hills forwards.
Key players for Elmore include Zack Holmberg who was named in a back pocket on Antonowicz, plus Darcy Laffy, Rhys Holmberg, Daniel Russell, Jordan Buckley and Zac Laffy.
The Bloods will be without key defender Dylan Gordon.
There is plenty of run and skill in a White Hills team jointly coached by Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt which fought on for a 115-113 win at home under lights against Heathcote .
Demons’ veteran Matt Sawyer was superb in the ruck against Heathcote, while Doolan Nihill and Nick Warnock were among the best.
Others to watch in the red and black include James Davies, captain Rhys Irwin, Thomas Brereton, Cohen Kekich and David Wright.
The unbeaten North Bendigo is back from the bye to play Huntly on the Bulldogs’ turf at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street.
It’s been an impressive start by the Robert Bennett-coached Bulldogs who showed plenty of fight in wins at home against Mount Pleasant and Lockington Bamawm United.
A triple premiership winner with Strathfieldsaye, Jake Hall’s ability to play in multiple roles is a huge plus for North Bendigo.
Hall was best afield in the Dogs’ win against the Cats.
Ruckman Jeremy Lambden, key forward Dylan Klemm, and defenders Shane Harris and Tim Devereaux have made great starts to the season.
The Bulldogs are bolstered by the return of key position player Matt Gray.
Pressure at centre clearances and stoppages will be crucial for a Hawks team coached by Harry Whittle and Jayden Cordy.
A Harding medallist as best and fairest in his stint with Newbridge in the Loddon Valley, Whittle can play many roles.
The Hawks will rely a lot on the competitiveness of their on-ballers at centre breaks and stoppages.
A Hawks attack that has the marking power of Lachy Wilson, Brodie and Jackson Fry, and smarts of Harry McCormick will test the Bulldogs.
Other key players for the brown and gold include Ryan Burt, Flynn Campbell, Ben Daley, Abe Sladden and Taylor Smart.
Mount Pleasant is on home turf at Toolleen to take on Leitchville Gunbower.
The Adam Baird-coached Blues are top of the ladder after big wins against Huntly and Colbinabbin.
The brilliant Ben Weightman has teamed superbly in attack with talented youngster Mitch Rovers who has crossed from Kangaroo Flat.
It’s been Weightman and Rovers who have dominated in all three matches for Mounts for goalkicking tallies of 14 and 10.
At the other end of the ground, William Wallace is one of the league’s best defenders.
The Blues also have ruckman Chris Down and Adam Baird who set up a lot of attacks from centre ball-ups and stoppages.
Others to watch in the Mounts’ line-up include Bryce Hinneberg in defence, Pat O’Brien, Zebb Murrell and Reardon McIvor.
It’s been a tough run for the Shannon Keam-coached Leitchville Gunbower.
The Bombers put in a great effort against Elmore last round, but were outrun in the crucial third term.
Ruckman Jobee Warde is in great form and faces another big task.
The Bombers will also look to Zeb Ellwood, Billy Hawken and Jye Keath to win plenty of contests.
Talented youngster Oskar Smatt was also named in the LG line-up.
Heathcote has the bye.
Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:
Mount Pleasant 193 per cent, 8 points; Heathcote 167, 8; Elmore 135, 8; White Hills 128, 8; North Bendigo 109, 8; Lockington Bamawm United 135, 4; Colbinabbin 67, 4; Leitchville Gunbower 44, 0; Huntly 40, 0.
18 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.
14 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.
12 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.
10 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.
8 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.
7 Jordan Buckley, Elmore.
7 Jesse Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.
7 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.
6 Brodie Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.
6 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.
6 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.
6 Anthony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.
6 Riley McNamara, Mount Pleasant.
5 Kai Cavallaro, Heathcote.
5 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.
4 Liam Birch, Heathcote.
4 Aarryn Craig, North Bendigo.
4 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.
4 Liam Jacques, Heathcote.
4 Jack Hetherington, Mount Pleasant.
4 Tyler Phillips, Lockington Bamawm United.
4 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.
4 Nick Warnock, White Hills.