HDFNL Week 1 Finals Preview | Bulldogs face Demons in final at Heathcote


NORTH Bendigo has some demons to overcome when it tackles White Hills in the Heathcote DFNL senior footy qualifying final on Saturday.

Although the teams have changed markedly, North Bendigo has the memory of last year’s elimination final loss to White Hills as extra motivation.

The Bulldogs and Demons will clash on Heathcote’s turf at Pigeon Park in Barrack Reserve from 2.15pm.

Although the Rob Bennett-coached North Bendigo won the home and away matches against White Hills by 49 and 21 points, a new season starts now.

At selection, North Bendigo recalled Shane Harris and Brodie Thomson for Lachlan Furness and Will Gilmore.

Demons’ skipper Rhys Irwin is back for Blake Hogan.

There is plenty of goalscoring power in both teams.

North Bendigo’s attack has the athletic Dylan Klemm and Cody Riddick, strong marking Jordan Ford, and then captain Aarryn Craig and Hakeem Johnson at ground level.

Big test for a White Hills defence that includes Nic Warnock, Nic Wallace, Jake Dickens and co-coaches Jack Fallon and Jake Pallpratt.

An experienced Bulldogs’ defence that includes Tim Devereaux, Ryan Alford, Matt Gray and Daniel Reid is up against the likes of Kaiden Antonowicz, Mitch Dole, James Davies and Cohen Kekich.

North Bendigo ruckman Jeremy Lambden is in fine form, along with midfielders Nic Waterson and Riley Paetow.

The Demons will look for big games from the likes of Nathan Moffat, Tom Brereton, Brady Childs and Patrick Eefting.

On Sunday it’s Mount Pleasant against Leitchville Gunbower in the seniors elimination final at Hibo Hotel Oval in North Bendigo’s Atkins Street.

Last season’s runner-up, Mount Pleasant finished the home and away series in fourth place on a 10-6 record, but has plenty of experience and skill.

After a 0-4 start to the season, Leitchville Gunbower has capped a brilliant run from being wooden spooner in ’22 to again be in the final action.

The Shannon Keam-coached Bombers will be determined their season extends beyond Sunday.

This season’s meetings between the Blues and Bombers stand at one-all.

Mount Pleasant dominated the round four clash on its turf at Toolleen to win by 16 goals.

In round 13 it was the Bombers who fought for an 81-79 victory against the Blues at Gunbower.

Stars in the Mount Pleasant line-up include co-coaches Adam Baird and Ben Weightman playing ruck-rover and full-forward respectively.

Recruited to the Blues from Kangaroo Flat, the pacy Mitch Rovers will be a constant threat near goal or at centre ball-ups.

Key defender William Wallace is one of the most valuable players in the league.

Other players to watch for Mounts include ruckman Chris Down, Riley McNamara, wingman Zebb Murrell, Mitch Bennett, Caelan Smith, Bailey and Fletcher White.

A great run in the second half of the season by Leitchville Gunbower not only included beating Mounts, but also Lockington Bamawm United by 51 points, and North Bendigo by 31 points.

The Bombers needed Mount Pleasant to beat reigning premier Lockington Bamawm United last Saturday to deny the Cats a finals berth.

Mounts did so, but there will be no favours this Sunday.

There have been many outstanding contributors in Leitchville Gunbower’s winning streak.

A Bombers’ attack that has Chris Horman, Lachlan Sverns and Oskar Smartt as targets will test the Blues.

Ruckman Jobee Warde is in outstanding form and co-captains Hoby Bussey and Jye Keath set a great example with their attack at the contest.

Other players to watch in the red, yellow and black are Tom Brereton, Thomas Guerra, Billy Hawken and Nathan McLellan.

In the reserves competition, White Hills plays North Bendigo in the qualifying final from 11.50am at Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve.

In round seven, White Hills defeated the Bulldogs by a goal at Winslow Constructors Oval in White Hills.

The Bulldogs bit back to win the round 16 clash at North Bendigo by 32 points.

Lockington Bamawm United meets Huntly in the reserves elimination final on Sunday from 11.50am at North Bendigo.

In round three it was LBU which beat the Harlowe Huntly Hawks at Huntly’s Strauch Reserve by 15 points.

A thrilling clash in the 12th round at Lockington’s Nichol Trading Oval ended in a three-point win for the Hawks.

First match in this year’s finals series will be Saturday’s under-18s qualifying final between White Hills and Heathcote from 9.45am at Pigeon Park in Heathcote’s Barrack Reserve.

The Demons beat the Saints by 87 points at White Hills in round three.

By the 12th round it was Heathcote which marked a 92-point turnaround as it marked a 34-29 win at home against White Hills.

On Sunday it will be Huntly and Lockington Bamawm United striving to stay in the premiership race when they contest the elimination final from 9.45am at North Bendigo.

The Harlowe Huntly Hawks have won both of this season’s clashes with the Cats.

In round three, Huntly won 65-27 at home.

The Hawks then won 50-21 on the Cats’ turf in the 12th round.

Teams through to the second semi-finals to be played on September 2 at M.J. Morgan Oval in Colbinabbin are Heathcote, seniors; Mount Pleasant, reserves; and North Bendigo, under-18s.