BY NATHAN DOLE
PYRAMID Hill takes on a red-hot Marong in this Saturday’s second semi-final in the Bendigo Bank Loddon Valley FNL’s senior footy action.
The Bulldogs and Panthers will clash at Gadsden Finance Serpentine Reserve from 2.15pm.
This season’s meetings between the second semi-finalists stand at two-nil in Marong’s favour.
An unbeaten run by the Linton Jacobs-coached Panthers in their quest for back-to-back premierships includes a seven-goal win at East West Oval in Marong’s Malone Park in the fourth round.
Most recent meeting between these clubs was in the 13th round where Marong scored 19.10 (124) and held the Dogs to a tally of four points at Pyramid Hill’s Mitchell Park.
The Nathan Fitzpatrick-coached Pyramid Hill kicked off this year’s finals series by scoring a 69-point victory against Bears-Lagoon Serpentine in last Saturday’s qualifying final at Bridgewater.
A highlight for the Dogs was a spread of 11 goalkickers.
Key players in Pyramid Hill’s attack include Will Perryman, Zach Alford and Jesse Sheahan.
Workrate of the Bulldogs’ on-ballers and midfielders, especially when not in possession, will be crucial.
Pyramid Hill had on-baller Brodie Carroll dominate in the qualifying final.
It will be the play of Harding medallist Billy Micevski, captain Steven Gunther, Seb Relouw, Declan Slingo, Adrian Holland and Brad Driscoll that has a major bearing on the Bulldogs’ chances.
Two of Pyramid Hill’s most experienced players are Gavin James and Scott Mann.
Just how the Bulldogs’ limit the impact century goalkicker Brandyn Grenfell has on this contest will have taken up plenty of time at training.
Cutting off supply is the goal, but it’s a difficult task against a Marong line-up that includes ruckman Michael Bradbury, Nathan Devanny, Will Gadsden, Ben and Corey Gregg, and Richard Tibbett.
A tally of 103 goals by Grenfell follows last season’s league record-breaking tally of 154.
A powerful attack for the Panthers include Kain Robins, a Michelsen medallist and premiership winner with Eaglehawk.
Add in the likes of Matt Riordan and Ryley Taylor has Marong has plenty of scoring options.
The Panthers’ line-up includes Jonty Davis and Jack McCaig.
On Sunday it will be Bears-Lagoon Serpentine and Bridgewater fighting to stay in the premiership race as they contest the first semi-final at Pyramid Hill’s Mitchell Park.
The Bears take on the Mean Machine from 2.15pm.
Bears-Lagoon Serpentine will be snarling after being outplayed across the final three quarters of the qualifying final showdown with Pyramid Hill.
Bridgewater played inspired football to win the elimination final against Inglewood by 22 points.
The Justin Laird-coached Bears have won both of this season’s matches against Bridgewater.
In round seven, BLS marked a 90-50 win at Serpentine.
The Bears then won the round 16 clash at Bridgewater by 24 points.
Players to watch for the Bears include Charlie and Harry Gadsden, Callum Draper and James Rippingale.
Last week it was Orion Downing who played a stand-out game in the Bears’ defence.
The BLS attack includes Justin Laird and Andy Gladman, while ruckman Aidan Brohm is one of the team’s most consistent.
The return of captain and key forward Josh Martyn was a huge plus for Bridgewater last Sunday.
Martyn again led the Machine’s attack on five goals.
Bridgewater coach Rick Ladson will again look for on-ballers Harry Donegan and Charlton Hindle to set up plenty of attacks.
The Mean Machine’s best in the elimination final included Lachlan Cohen, Tyler Estrada and Harry McKinley.
Bridgewater’s team includes Darcy Wood, Nic Hall, the athletic Oliver Muggleton, and experienced Alex Pollock.
In the reserves competition, Marong plays Pyramid Hill in Saturday’s second semi-final from 12.30pm.
It was an unbeaten run by Marong in the home and away series.
The Panthers are also vying for back-to-back premierships.
In round four, Marong beat Pyramid Hill, 91-32 at East West Oval in Marong’s Malone Park.
The round 13 showdown at Mitchell Park ended in a 63-point victory for the Panthers.
Marong’s team for Saturday includes Zack Turnbull, Sam Taylor, Jai and Reece Gretgrix, Noah McCaig, and Tucker Thach.
Pyramid Hill kicked off its finals campaign by scoring an 85-16 win against Bears-Lagoon Serpentine in the qualifying final.
Nathan Moon and Rowan Pollock kicked three goals apiece.
Best for the Bulldogs were Nathan Moon, Darcy Hetherington, Thomas Walker, Matthew Moon, Dylan Goulding and Greg Quinn.
On Sunday it will be Bears-Lagoon Serpentine against Maiden Gully YCW in the first semi-final at Pyramid Hill’s Mitchell Park.
Play starts at 12.30pm.
The Bears ended the home-and-away series in second place on a 13-3 record, but defeat on Sunday and the run is over.
In round nine, BLS won 45-41 on the Eagles’ turf at Marist College Bendigo in Maiden Gully.
On August 12 it was Bears-Lagoon Serpentine which beat the Eagles, 53-43 at Serpentine.
Best for the Bears in the qualifying final were Zac Hollis, Allan Edwards, Jaydin Wingrave and Zac Stone.
The BLS line-up for the first semi includes captain Jayden Gladman, Kyale Paxton, Zach Stone and Kevin Walton.
Maiden Gully dominated the elimination final against Inglewood to win by 41 points.
Grayson Brown, Steve Turner, Mitchell Dean, Jordan Crisp, Daniel Bice and Haidyn Minnis were best in that contest and will be determined their season does not end at the hands of the Bears.