STRATHFIELDSAYE v SANDHURST - Flight Centre Park.
Strathfieldsaye (10-3-1) - The Storm have passed two major tests against Eaglehawk and Gisborne the past fortnight, but another significant challenge awaits today against the Dragons.
Win today and the Storm should go on to finish on top of the ladder.
A couple of major inclusions in the side in primemovers Wayne Schultz and Nick Smith to offset the disappointment of losing Vinnie Flood to a broken hand.
Sandhurst (9-5) - Six changes to the Dragons side that defeated Castlemaine last week.
They’ve lost key players in each area of the ground, but on paper, the Dragons still have a very handy side, showing there’s good depth at the club.
Need to win today to keep their double chance destiny in their own hands.
GISBORNE v EAGLEHAWK - Gardiner Reserve.
Gisborne (8-6) - Still hanging in the finals race, but only just after battling to get over bottom side Kangaroo Flat last week.
Still can’t take a trick on the injury front, with Michelsen medallist Scott Walsh (hamstring) out again, while Tom Waters (ankle) was to be tested last night before taking his place in the side.
Captain Casey Summerfield continues to lead the side superbly in the midfield.
Eaglehawk (10-4) - Not the time of the season you want your form to have dropped off, with the Hawks having lost their past two games.
Close to full strength for today’s clash with Gisborne, where the Hawks can make certain of a finals berth with a win.
The Hawks must sharpen up in front of goal, having kicked a combined 13.27 the past fortnight. Can’t afford to let the Bulldogs off today with poor kicking again.
MARYBOROUGH v GOLDEN SQUARE - Princes Park.
Maryborough (3-11) - The season has been a battle for Maryborough, and there won’t be any respite today against Golden Square, who the Magpies haven’t beaten since 2004.
Can’t see the Magpies breaking the drought against the Bulldogs today, but the game is all about the young players learning from some of the best in the business like Square’s Simon Rosa, Rick Ladson, Nathan Bell and Mark Lloyd.
Golden Square (10-5) - Last game of the home and away season before a week off heading into the finals for the four-time defending premiers.
No longer have the same aura about them as recent years, but the Bulldogs look to be timing their run well for a tilt at another flag next month.
Won their past three and should handle the Magpies, then sit back next week and hope they hold their top three spot.
SOUTH BENDIGO v CASTLEMAINE - QEO.
South Bendigo (8-5-1) - The pressure is back on the Bloods to hold their position in the top five after last week’s loss to Golden Square left them just two points clear of Gisborne.
As has been the case all season at the Bloods, there has again been multiple changes to the side – this time five.
Were patchy against Golden Square last week and need to polish their ball-use to make life easier for their forwards.
Castlemaine (3-11) - Gave South Bendigo a massive scare back in round eight when beaten by one point in what was a top v bottom clash.
That was on the small Camp Reserve. The biggest query over the Magpies today is their ability to handle the big QEO, where they haven’t won since 2008.
The midfield will need to apply plenty of pressure to assist full-back David Stephens in his job on Justin Maddern.