BY NATHAN DOLE
HEATHCOTE will aim for a feat rarely achieved in recent seasons when it plays at North Bendigo in Saturday’s eighth round of the Bendigo Bank Heathcote DFNL’s senior footy action.
It’s a daunting task for the Saints as North Bendigo’s record in its past 12 matches at Hibo Hotel Oval in Atkins Street stands at 10 wins, one loss, and a draw.
The Bulldogs’ unbeaten streak was broken by Lockington Bamawm United in the 16th round of last season.
The charge by the Robert Bennett-coached North Bendigo to top of the ladder in this season’s premiership race has included four wins at home for a six-nil record.
Heathcote is also in hot form.
A 5-1 tally has the Andrew Saladino-coached Saints in third place.
North Bendigo marked its best four-quarter performance of the season as it won 115-66 at White Hills last Saturday.
Jordan Ford, Aarryn Craig were among the best as Ryan Alford joined the 200-club.
North Bendigo is strengthened by the return of number one ruckman Jeremy Lambden, while Pat Bogers, Riley Paetow and Bailey Wingrave are other inclusions.
An attack that includes Dylan Klemm, Hakeem Johnson and Cody Riddick will test the Saints.
Just as importantly is North Bendigo’s defence which has Tim Deveraux, Shane Harris and Matt Gray leading the way.
Heathcote’s workrate and skills were big factors in their recent wins against Mount Pleasant and Lockington Bamawm United.
The athleticism and marking strength of Corey Grindlay who has kicked 35 goals for the Saints since his arrival from Wallan will test the Dogs all match.
The Saints also regain Shannon Dowsett at centre half-forward.
Gun midfielder/onballer Braden Padmore was among the best in the 33-point win against LBU, along with Will Long and Ben Connelly.
Back at the Saints, Liam Jacques is starring in an on-ball role.
The Bulldogs will need to work hard to limit the space and time that Jacques is given.
Another to watch will be the dash and skill of captain Codie Price off half-back, and the hardworking Jordan Cavallaro.
Jordan Marcroft returns to the ruck, while rover Thomas Pain has played well all season.
In defence the Saints have William Direen, Joseph Beedle, Victor Butler and Lachlan Inness.
Stung by a hat-trick of defeats, Lockington Bamawm United is back on home turf to play Elmore.
The Stacy Fiske-coached LBU is 2-4 and in a fight to hold fifth place as it leads Colbinabbin and Elmore on percentage.
The Cats’ line-up take on the Bloods includes ruckman Tyler Phillips, Brodie Collins, Riley McIvor, Thomas Leech, Fraser Monahan and Max Johnson.
Elmore has the experience of Dylan Gordon and Zac Laffy, in defence, and Darcy Laffy and Jordan Buckley in attack.
Other key players for the Bloods who are now jointly coached by Dylan Friedberger and Mick Woolhouse include captain Rhys Holmberg, ruckman Daniel Russell, Nathan Kay, Sam McHale and Dylan Oaff.
After a bye, Colbinabbin is back on home soil at M.J. Morgan Oval to take on Leitchville Gunbower.
The Jed Brain-coached Grasshoppers marked their second win of the season in a 61-44 result at Huntly in round six.
Colbinabbin’s best in that match included Connor Aldous, Ben Barton, Riley Hogan, Jimmy McMurtrie and Kyle Williamson.
Other key players for the green and gold include co-captains Will Lowe and David Price, James Brain, ruckman Jasper McArdle, Laine and Logan Fitzgerald.
The Shannon Keam-coached Leitchville Gunbower is again chasing consecutive wins after a 106-38 triumph at Leitchville against Huntly.
In-form players for the Bombers include Caleb Hislop, Chris Horman, Jye Keath and Clay McGregor.
The play of Hoby Bussey, Chris Horman, Tom Brereton and Jobee Warde will have a major bearing on LG’s chances of marking win number three.
Huntly takes on White Hills in the Hawks’ nest at Strauch Reserve.
A tough run for the Hawks does not become easier as the Demons will be fired up after their loss to North Bendigo on home turf.
Huntly will again rely a lot on co-coach Harry Whittle to win a lot of contests, along with Steve Kairn, Ben Hilson and Harrison Campbell.
The Hawks have Lachy Wilson and Jayden Matthews in key targets in attack, but they face a huge task trying to match the scoring output of a White Hills line-up that includes Kaiden Antonowicz, James Davies, Jake Allport and Mitch Dole.
The work of Huntly ruckman Jackson Fry, Harry McCormick and Lachlan Watson at centre clearances and stoppages will be crucial.
Key players for a White Hills team jointly coached by Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt include Nic Warnock, captain Rhys Irwin, Patrick Eefting and Liam Bartels.
The Demons also regain experienced ruckman/forward Matt Sawyer.
Mount Pleasant has the bye.
Heathcote DFNL senior footy ladder:
North Bendigo 149 per cent, 24 points; Mount Pleasant 185, 20; Heathcote 155, 20; White Hills 106, 16; Lockington Bamawm United 99, 8; Colbinabbin 84, 8; Elmore 76, 8; Leitchville Gunbower 66, 8; Huntly 41, 0.
37 Ben Weightman, Mount Pleasant.
35 Corey Grindlay, Heathcote.
23 Kaiden Antonowicz, White Hills.
23 Jordan Ford, North Bendigo.
20 Chris Horman, Leitchville Gunbower.
20 Mitch Rovers, Mount Pleasant.
19 Lachy Wilson, Huntly.
15 Dylan Klemm, North Bendigo.
13 Anthony McMahon, Lockington Bamawm United.
12 Darcy Laffy, Elmore.
12 Thomas Leech, Lockington Bamawm United.
11 Laine Fitzgerald, Colbinabbin.
11 Cody Riddick, North Bendigo.
10 Aarryn Craig, North Bendigo.
10 Riley McNamara, Mount Pleasant.
9 Mitch Bennett, Mount Pleasant.
8 Liam Birch, Heathcote.
8 Kai Cavallaro, Heathcote.
8 Brodie Collins, Lockington Bamawm United.
8 Liam Jacques, Heathcote.
8 Hakeem Johnson, North Bendigo.
8 Tyler Phillips, Lockington Bamawm United.
8 Nic Warnock, White Hills.