Finals action begins at Marong, Mitiamo
THE Bendigo Bank Loddon Valley Football Netball League marks the return of a long-awaited finals series when qualifying and elimination finals are played across this weekend at Marong and Mitiamo.
Action begins at Marong’s Malone Park on Saturday when qualifying finals are played.
On Sunday teams will fight to stay in the premiership race when they contest elimination finals at John Forbes Oval in Mitiamo.
In the senior footy, Pyramid Hill takes on Mitiamo in the qualifying final.
Most recent finals clash between these clubs was the 2019 grand final in which the Superoos beat the Bulldogs by 22 points.
In this season’s action, the Nathan Fitzpatrick-coached Bulldogs have won both showdowns with the Superoos by margins of four and five points.
In round six, an inaccurate Pyramid Hill scored 5.22 to win at Mitiamo by four points.
The Superoos turned around a 10-point deficit at half-time of the round 15 clash at Pyramid Hill’s Mitchell Park to lead by 20 points at a quarter to play after they scored 7.1 to 2.1 in the third term.
Pyramid Hill hit back to win the final term, 4.8 to 1.1, to claim a 79-74 victory.
Mitch Cheesman kicked four goals for the Bulldogs to be among the best with Dylan Collis, Bryden Morrison and Ben Dalton.
Mitiamo’s attack was led by Jay Reynolds on five goals as Daniel Mowat, Doug Thomas, Lee Dale and Nathan Twigg were best.
A major strength of the Bulldogs’ line-up is quick transition from half-back through midfield to attack.
Gavin James and Brad Ladson play key roles across the half-back line, as do captain Steven Gunther and Ed Caburnay in midfield.
A strong attack includes Braidy Dickens, Bailey George, Scott Mann and Seb Relouw.
The Superoos will also have to work hard to limit the impact ruckman Adrian Holland, ruck-rover Billy Micevski and rover Ryley Dickens have on the contest.
There is plenty of finals experience in the Mitiamo line-up.
The Superoos have 2019 premiership-winning players Ash Benbow, Kyle Patten, Jarryd Wiegard, Luke Lougoon, Matt Grant, Ryan Wellington, Michael I’Anson, Tom Grant, Doug Thomas taking to the field this Saturday.
A major blow is 400-game player Lucas Matthews, also a 2019 premiership winner, not being named in Mitiamo’s team.
Defensive pressure will be a key to the plans of Mitiamo coach Marcus McKern.
Among the stars in the Superoos’ run this season have been Ross Turner and Lee Dale.
Mitiamo will look to Ryan Wellington, Jay Reynolds, Michael I’Anson and Doug Thomas to lead the attack.
In defence the play of Lachlan Twigg, Lougoon and Wiegard will be crucial.
Onballers Nathan Twigg, Carl Nicholson and Lee Dale are capable of winning plenty of the footy.
Bridgewater will start favourite against Bears Lagoon Serpentine in Sunday’s elimination final.
The Mean Machine has beaten the Bears by margins of 29 and 42 points this season.
Bridgewater onballers Harry Donegan and Callum Prest are in superb form and will be a major danger to the Bears.
The Mean Machine also has former Richmond and Carlton player Andy Collins capable of doing plenty of damage through the midfield or in attack.
It will be a tough match-up for the Bears, as will be stopping gun forward Josh Martyn.
Other key players for the Rick Ladson-coached Bridgewater include J Naughton and J Symons across half-back, Lloyd Needs in the centre, Alex Pollock on a wing, Emile Pavlich and Tim Wood.
A ‘from’ interchange of six includes Zane Hoiles who has not played for many weeks because of injury.
The Bears have also been rocked by injury as captain-coach and ruckman/forward Justin Laird will not play in the final because of a broken jaw.
It’s been a brilliant effort by Laird to lead the Bears to finals in his first season as coach.
They carry the underdog status into this clash with the Mean Machine, but that will not faze the Bears line-up.
A talented line-up includes Andy Gladman at full-forward, captain Josh Walsh at half-back, Charlie and Harry Gadsden, ruckman Darcy Poulter, and Kalem Paxton.
Other players to watch in the BLS team include Beau Roy-Clements, Miggy Podosky and Lachlan Murley.
Schedule for Saturday’s qualifying finals at Marong’s Malone Park:
Seniors at 2.15pm: Pyramid Hill v Mitiamo.
Reserves at 12.30pm: Pyramid Hill v Bridgewater.
Schedule for Sunday’s elimination finals at John Forbes Oval in Mitiamo.
Seniors at 2.15pm: Bridgewater v Bears Lagoon Serpentine.
Reserves at 12.30pm: Newbridge v Bears Lagoon Serpentine.
The under-18s first semi-final will be played this Saturday at Marong’s Malone Park between East Loddon and Inglewood from 10.40am.
Top teams in the under-18s, Marong and Bridgewater meet in the second semi-final on August 27 from 10.40 at Gadsden Finance Serpentine Reserve.
Loddon Valley FNL senior footy ladder:
Marong 351 per cent, 60 points; Pyramid Hill 284, 60; Mitiamo 122, 40; Bridgewater 112, 40; Bears Lagoon Serpentine 72, 28; Maiden Gully YCW Eagles 66, 20; Newbridge 53, 20; Inglewood 53, 12; Calivil United 52, 8.
Leading goalkickers in the seniors competition:
143 Brandyn Grenfell, Mar.
56 Bailey George, PH.
53 Josh Martyn, B’water.
45 Jason Butty, MGYCW.
44 Braidy Dickens, PH.
42 Andy Collins, B’water.
37 Kain Robins, Mar.
35 Chris Dixon, New.; Andy Gladman, BLS.
34 Jay Reynolds, Miti.
31 Ryley Taylor, Mar.
30 Steven Gunther, PH.
29 Jacob Greenwood, CU.
27 Ryan Wellington, Miti.
25 Charlie McGaw, I’wood.
24 Nathan Devanny, Mar.; Justin Laird, BLS.
23 Mitch Cheesman, PH.
22 Seb Relouw, PH.
21 Lucas Matthews, Miti.
20 Lloyd Needs, B’water.
19 Billy Micevski, PH; Wayne Mitrovic, MGYCW.
Written by Nathan Dole.