BY NATHAN DOLE
DONALD faces a huge test on home turf when it meets the unbeaten Sea Lake Nandaly in Saturday’s eighth round of senior footy in the Goldacres North Central FL season.
In an appropriate touch the Royal Blues are at home for the King’s Birthday holiday weekend match as fourth takes on first from 2.30pm.
Last season’s runner-up, Donald marked a hard-fought 68-56 win at Nullawil in last week’s Headspace Round.
Ryley Barrack, Jesse Wallin, Josh Potter and James Wall were Donald’s best as it’s win-loss tally became 4-2.
The Rohan Brown-coached Donald was 1-2 after three rounds.
The Royals were beaten by Wycheproof-Narraport in round one, had the bye, beat Wedderburn by 21 points, and then went down to Boort by 10 points.
Since then Donald has beaten Birchip-Watchem, St Arnaud and Nullawil.
The Royals are up against an opponent that has dominated most matches.
Last hit-out for the Tigers at Sea Lake ended in a 67-34 win against Wycheproof-Narraport.
Best for the Billy McInnes and Bryce Delmenico-coached SLN were Jack Poulton, Trent Donnan, Ryan O’Sullivan and Luke Martin.
A key to Donald’s chances will be its play at centre ball-ups and stoppages.
Feeny medallist and gun on-baller Ross Young will play a crucial role for Donald, as will Rian McGough, Ryan Bath and Rory O’Shannessy.
Sea Lake Nandaly’s attack is bolstered by the inclusion of former Adelaide and Geelong key forward in Josh Jenkins.
In his only appearance for the Tigers this season, Jenkins kicked five goals against St Arnaud in the third round.
Other key players in the SLN attack include McInnes and Will Simpson.
A formidable Tigers’ line-up includes Kane and Wade Donnan, Brodie Adcock and John Summerhayes.
Another big match will be at Wedderburn’s Donaldson Park where the Redbacks take on Nullawil.
The Sam Barnes-coached Wedderburn will be desperate for the four points.
The Redbacks go into this match a win behind the second-placed Nullawil.
Wedderburn scored a 62-point win at St Arnaud’s Lord Nelson Park last Saturday as Luke Holt, Hamish and Sam Lockhart, and Darcy Jackson led the way.
Players to watch in the red and black include Danny Benaim, Tom Campbell, Jordan Hargreaves, Adam Postle and Jordan Rosengren.
Nullawil will be fired up after a two-goal loss at home to Donald.
Best for the Brett Barker-coached Maroons last round were Patrick Kelly, Lucas Caccaviello, Billy Forrester and Dean Putt.
Adam Thomson has kicked 19 goals for Nullawil.
Another of the team’s key targets, Mitch Farmer has also booted 19 goals, but was not named for this match.
The Maroons will look for big games from the likes of Jonathan Casey, Zac Caccaviello, Andrew Oberdorfer and captain Jordan Humphreys.
Among the inclusions for Nullawil was Dude Kelly who across summer competed in field and track for Eaglehawk.
Boort takes on St Arnaud at Boort Park.
The Dale Cameron-coached Boort is on the rebound from a 51-point loss to Birchip-Watchem.
Best for the Magpies in that match were Nathan Twigg, Keiren Wilson, Ryan McGhie and Jarrod Starr.
Boort’s run has included a 10-point win at Donald in round four, and a two-point loss at home to Wedderburn.
Key players for the Magpies include Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Lanyon, Natnael McLaren, Levi Moss and Keanu Padula.
It’s been a tough season for St Arnaud which is yet to claim any points.
Best for the Saints in last week’s clash with Wedderburn were Harley Durward, William Bertalli, Matthew Goode and Sam Male.
A strong start will be a goal for the Anthony Bourke-coached St Arnaud after it faced a 33-point deficit at quarter-time against the Redbacks.
Wycheproof-Narraport takes on Charlton at Wycheproof.
The Demons are on the rebound from a 33-point loss at Sea Lake and are up against a team refreshed by the bye.
Best for the Boe Bish-coached Wycheproof-Narraport against SLN were Gedd Hommelhoff, Damien Horbury, Justin and Aaron Bateson.
The Demons’ line-up includes captain Joel Turner in the centre, Josh Walsh, Cody Green, James Coatsworth, Rick Allan, and ruckman Lachlan Van Schaik.
Charlton’s sole victory was a 104-60 result against St Arnaud in the fourth round at Charlton Park.
Key players for the Andy Nisbet-coached Navies include captain Tim Hill, Aaron Walklate, Cobi Fitzpatrick, Jed Thompson, Jaydon Cowling and Anthony Judd.
Birchip-Watchem has the bye.
North Central FNL senior footy ladder:
Sea Lake Nandaly 242 per cent, 24 points; Nullawil 177, 16; Birchip-Watchem 176, 16; Donald 127, 16; Wycheproof-Narraport 81, 14; Wedderburn 107, 12; Boort 103, 10; Charlton 39, 4; St Arnaud 31, 0.
Leaders in the goalkicking race:
29 Sam Dunstan, Donald.
27 Ben Edwards, Birchip-Watchem.
22 Billy McInnes, Sea Lake Nandaly.
19 Mitch Farmer, Nullawil.
19 Gedd Hommelhoff, Wycheproof-Narraport.
19 Adam Thomson, Nullawil.
18 Sam Barnes, Wedderburn.
17 Daniel Castellano, Birchip-Watchem.
17 Nathan Gordon, Birchip-Watchem.
16 Tom Campbell, Wedderburn.
14 Cody Green, Wycheproof-Narraport.
12 Nicholas Rippon, Birchip-Watchem.
12 Will Simpson, Sea Lake Nandaly.
10 Jarrod Fitzpatrick, Boort.