BY NATHAN DOLE
WHITE Hills will turn up the heat when it tackles North Bendigo in Saturday’s seventh round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL season.
The Demons and Bulldogs clash from 2.30pm at Winslow Constructors Oval in Scott Street, White Hills.
It’s a big day for North Bendigo defender Ryan Alford in his 200th senior match.
A triple premiership winner, Alford will play a key role in a back pocket or at half-back.
Line-ups have changed markedly since last August, but both clubs have plenty of players who were in last year’s elimination final.
A 16-point win by the Demons at Colbinabbin put North Bendigo out of the premiership race.
This Saturday the Demons go into the match in fourth place on a 4-1 record.
After a 51-point loss to Mount Pleasant in its most recent home game in round five, White Hills struck back for a 14-point victory at Lockington last Saturday.
Nick Warnock was outstanding in defence for the Demons.
The Demons have co-coaches Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt across half-back, the experience of Brady Childs and Mitch Dole in midfield or closer to goal, and David Wright.
A key match-up for North Bendigo will be against classy forward Kaiden Antonowicz.
Recruited from South Bendigo, Antonowicz has kicked 22 goals for White Hills and is also a dangerous player when switched to a midfield or on-ball role.
Others players to watch in the red and black include captain Rhys Irwin, James Davies, Bayden Fallon, Liam Bartels and Cohen Kekich.
The Rob Bennett-coached North Bendigo is unbeaten in five matches and top of the ladder.
On Saturday it will be Ryan Alford aiming to play well in a team that includes two other triple premiership winners in Aarryn Craig and Jordan Ford.
The Alford family links to the club stretch back to the mid 70s when Ryan’s uncle, Dale was ruck-rover in the Golden City FL premiership teams of ’74, ’76 and ’77.
Ryan’s father, Jack was a gun half-back flanker through the 80s, and Ryan’s uncles, Leigh and Shane, aka Jock, also played for the red, white and blue.
A wet ground means play at centre clearances and stoppages will be crucial.
The Bulldogs have Ben Knight, Jack Francis, Storm Giri and Manny Thalasinos at ground level.
Skilful wingman Nic Waterson is back along with key defender/ruckman Brodie Thomson.
Heathcote is back at home at Barrack Reserve to take on Lockington Bamawm United.
The Andrew Saladino-coached Saints played brilliant footy to beat Mount Pleasant at Toollen last round.
Heathcote now takes on the reigning champions who will be fighting to avoid a hat-trick of defeats.
Gun forward Corey Grindlay has regularly capped off the great work of Heathcote’s on-ballers and midfielders such as Liam Jacques, Braden Padmore and Thomas Pain.
The Saints’ best in their win against Mount Pleasant included captain Codie Price, William Direen and Connor Hamilton in defence.
Heathcote also has Jordan and Kai Cavallaro in attack, along with the skilful Liam Birch.
The Stacy Fiske-coached LBU has battled to put four quarters together in recent weeks.
A formidable Cats’ line-up includes premiership-winning coach Brodie Collins in the centre, and dual Sam Cheatley medallist Tyler Phillips in the ruck.
LBU will look for big games from the likes of key forward Max Johnson, Riley McIvor, Jesse Collins, Baxter Anderson and Thomas Leech.
Charlie Hinks was named at full-back and will rely a lot on pressure applied from team-mates up the ground.
The Cats’ defence also includes Jeremy Mundie and Lachlan Tenace.
Elmore is back after a bye to play Mount Pleasant at Elmore.
The Bloods made changes to their coaching panel during the week as Mick Woolhouse, non-playing, teams up with Dylan Friedberger, playing, to lead the club.
Elmore faces a big task chalking up win number three against a Mounts’ line-up on the rebound from defeat.
Key players for Elmore include captain Dylan Gordon in defence, Darcy Laffy and Jordan Buckley in attack, Rhys and Zack Holmberg, Daniel Russell in the ruck, and Nathan Kay.
Mount Pleasant forwards Ben Weightman and Mitch Rovers will be fired up after being held to low tallies last round.
Not only is he the star in attack, Weightman is also co-coach of the Blues with Adam Baird who is still sidelined because of an ankle injury.
The Blues have ruckman Chris Down capable of dominating centre ball-ups and stoppages, as well as the run of Riley McNamara, Zebb Murrell and Pat O’Brien.
A strong defence includes Bryce Hinneberg and William Wallace.
Leitchville Gunbower is back at Leitchville to take on Huntly.
Most recent home game for the Bombers ended in a 25-point win against Lockington Bamawm United.
Best for LG in their clash at North Bendigo last round were Matt McLellan, Clay McGregor, Chris Horman and Xavier Colvin.
Key players for the Shannon Keam-coached Bombers include co-captains Hoby Bussey and Jye Keath, ruckman Jobee Warde, and Caleb Hislop.
Although it has a 0-5 record, Huntly will be no pushover.
The Hawks worked hard to finish within 17 points of Colbinabbin on the Hawks’ ground last round.
Co-coaches Harry Whittle and Jayden Cordy will play crucial roles for the brown and gold, along with Jackson Fry, Steve Kairn, Harrison Campbell, Mitch Billings and Lachy Wilson.
Colbinabbin has the bye.
Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:
North Bendigo 144 per cent, 20 points; Mount Pleasant 185, 16; Heathcote 154, 16; White Hills 124, 16; Lockington Bamawm United 107, 8; Colbinabbin 84, 8; Elmore 83, 8; Leitchville Gunbower 53, 4; Huntly 42, 0.
31 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.
29 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.
22 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.
22 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.
19 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.
16 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.
13 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.
12 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.
11 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.
11 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.
11 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.
11 Anthony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.