BY NATHAN DOLE
IT MAY be a goalscoring shoot-out at Toolleen on Saturday when Mount Pleasant takes on Heathcote in the sixth round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season.
A top contest between these great rivals which starts at 2.30pm features the top three in this season’s goalkicking race.
The ladder-leading Mount Pleasant has a brilliant attack led by Ben Weightman and Mitch Rovers.
At the other end of the ground Heathcote has Corey Grindlay in hot form.
For the coaches, Mount Pleasant’s Adam Baird and Ben Weightman, and Heathcote’s Andrew Saladino it will be affecting the supply to the forwards that will be crucial.
In any match the midfield and on-ball battles are always crucial.
Mounts has ruckman Chris Down in top form and teaming superbly with the likes of Adam Baird, Riley McNamara and Nick Butler.
For the Saints, Jordan Marcroft will play a big role in the ruck, as will Braden Padmore, Liam Jacques and Thomas Pain at ground level.
Mounts’ likely match-up for Grindlay who has kicked 16 goals in his past two matches is William Wallace.
Grindlay is the main target but the Saints also have Shannon Dowsett, Callum and Liam Birch and Kai Cavallaro as part of a strong attack.
Other key players for Heathcote include captain Codie Price off a half-back flank, Rhys Bolton on a wing, Ben Connolly and William Direen in defence.
Mount Pleasant’s best in a 51-point win at White Hills last Saturday included Fletcher White and Bryce Hinneberg.
Since a one-goal loss in the opening round, Mounts has won four matches in a row.
The Blues’ team to tackle the Saints includes Mitch Bennett, Coby Dunlop, Zebb Murrell, and Daniel and Michael Whiting.
Another big match will be at Lockington where Lockington Bamawm United takes on White Hills.
Both teams are on the rebound from defeat as the fifth-placed Cats meet the fourth-placed Demons.
The Stacy Fiske-coached LBU could not stop Leitchville Gunbower’s charge to a 25-point victory at Leitchville last round.
Best for the Cats in that match were Jake Rorke, Ben Holman, Tyler Phillips and Jacob Gardiner.
Key players for LBU include last year’s premiership-winning coach Brodie Collins in the centre, Max Johnson in the ruck or attack, Jesse Collins, Stanley Brentnall on a wing, and Thomas Leech up forward.
White Hills is bolstered by the inclusion of Mitchell Dole to its attack.
Those named in the Demons’ forward line include Kaiden Antonowicz in a pocket, captain Rhys Irwin, Liam Bartels and Brady Childs.
Co-coaches Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt provide plenty of run off half-back, while Jake Dickens was selected at full-back.
Other players to watch in the red and black include David Wright, Ryan Walker and Jake Allport.
The unbeaten North Bendigo is back at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street to take on Leitchville Gunbower.
The Rob Bennett-coached Bulldogs will be wary of the Shannon Keam-coached Bombers who won every quarter on its way to a long-awaited victory against LBU last round.
North Bendigo goes into this match without ruckman Jeremy Lambden and key defender Brodie Thomson.
The Bulldogs brought in Ryan Gow, and Pat Bogers for his first senior match with the club.
North Bendigo’s fighting quality was to the fore in a three-point win at Colbinabbin, but third quarter fade-outs are a concern.
A talented Bulldogs’ line-up includes Layton Ross and Shane Harris across half-back, Jordan Ford and Dylan Klemm in attack, and the hard-running Jake Hall, Nathan Newlan, Storm Giri and Billy Robertson.
It was a brilliant effort by the Bombers to beat LBU, but the challenge is to build on that momentum.
Caleb Hislop marked his return to footy and first match with LG by being best afield.
Hislop was named in the centre with Thomas Guerra and Austin Windridge on the wings.
Jobee Warde has played well in the ruck all season, while Tom Brereton and captain Jye Keath will test the Dogs’ on-ballers.
In attack the Bombers will look to Chris Horman, Tyler Jones and Billy Hawken as the main targets, while Lachlan Martini and Lachlan Sverns have big roles to play in defence.
After a bye, Huntly is back at Specialist Breeders Australia Oval in Huntly to take on Colbinabbin.
In round four, Huntly was down by 81 points at half-time at North Bendigo, but fought back to win the third term, 27-12.
Best for the Hawks in that match were co-coach Harry Whittle across half-back, ruckman Jackson Fry, Ben Daley and Harrison Campbell.
A big challenge for Huntly will be scoring enough goals to trouble the Grasshoppers.
The Hawks will look to Lachy Wilson, Abe Sladden, Nathan Grace and co-coach Jayden Cordy to cap off the work of team-mates up the ground.
Players to watch for the brown and gold include Ryan Burt and Mitch Billings in defence, Harry McCormick and Steve Kairn.
Although it has a 1-4 record, Colbinabbin has played great football the past two rounds.
The Grasshoppers went down 82-85 at home to North Bendigo after finishing with seven points of LBU at Lockington in round four.
The return of playing coach Jed Brain to a ruck-roving role has made a huge difference for Colbinabbin.
Best against the Bulldogs were Riley Hogan, Ben Barton, Logan Fitzgerald and Will Lowe.
A Colbo defence to take on the Hawks includes captain David Price, Darcy Brown, and Connor Aldous who had spent the past two seasons with Huntly.
The Grasshoppers have James Brain, Jai Carn, Clint Shields and Stephen Tuohey in attack.
Elmore has the bye.
Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:
Mount Pleasant 208 per cent, 16 points; North Bendigo 138, 16; Heathcote 165, 12; White Hills 125, 12; Lockington Bamawm United 114, 8; Elmore 83, 8; Colbinabbin 77, 4; Leitchville Gunbower 53, 4; Huntly 39, 0.
Leaders in the goalkicking race:
27 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.
26 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.
18 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.
17 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.
14 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.
14 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.
12 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.
11 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.
10 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.
10 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.
8 Brodie Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.
8 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.
7 Jordan Buckley, Elmore.
7 Kai Cavallaro, Heathcote.
7 Jesse Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.
7 Anthony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.
7 Tyler Phillips, Lockington Bamawm United.