A BERTH in next week’s Heathcote District Football League grand final is at stake tomorrow when rivals Huntly and North Bendigo clash.
The Hawks and Bulldogs will meet in the preliminary final at Colbinabbin, with the winner earning a shot at two-time defending champions Lockinton-Bamawm United in next week’s grand final.
For the Hawks – who have advanced the furthest they have in a season since 1996 – a victory tomorrow would propel them into their first HDFL grand final.
A North Bendigo victory would move the Bulldogs into their second grand final in a row and keep alive their hopes of winning their first flag since 1977.
Just when the Bulldogs looked a spent force this season on the back of six losses in a row, they breathed life back into their 2013 campaign last week with a 42-point first semi-final win over Heathcote.
The Bulldogs kicked 12 of the last 15 goals last week as they finished the game full of run.
“We’ve got to come out and make sure we put the pressure on Huntly from the first bounce and not wait until the third quarter like we did last week,” North Bendigo coach Damien Lock said.
“We’ll go in confident we can do some damage this week.”
Apart from the suspended Daniel Sipthorp, Lock expects the Bulldogs to be at full strength for the clash with the Hawks – a team North Bendigo has lost its past two games against by margins of 52 and 100 points.
Huntly last week squandered the chance to take the direct route to the grand final when it was beaten by LBU by 18 points in the second semi-final.
The Hawks matched the Cats for three quarters, but paid the price for a costly second-term lapse when they conceded six goals to nil.
“Obviously, a grand final berth is on the line, but as a group we’ve spoken this week about not letting that be our focus,” Huntly coach Stacy Fiske said.
“We’ve got to worry about what it’s going to take to beat North Bendigo, and if we do that then the rest will take care of itself.
“It’s all about making sure we go out and play the footy we need to play to get ourselves over the line.”