POINT TO PROVE AT QEO

IN a sport where clubs live by the “one week at a time” motto, you could forgive both Sandhurst and Strathfieldsaye in recent weeks if they’d let their attention wander forward  to 2.20pm at the QEO on Saturday, July 5.

With the Dragons and Storm the two clear standout sides of the Bendigo Football League, their return round 12 bout that is finally here has continued to loom large.

On Saturday, the two sides that between them have won 21 of 22 games lock horns on the QEO in what shapes as a mouth-watering appetiser to what likely looms ahead in September.

Both teams have plenty to prove in the blockbuster that pits the competition’s best attack, Strathfieldsaye (averaging 117.6 points per game) against the BFL’s best defence, Sandhurst (conceding 47.6 points).

When they last met in round three at Tannery Lane, the under-manned Strathfieldsaye proved no match for Sandhurst, copping a 79-point belting off the Dragons (pictured).

The Storm are averaging 17 goals a game this year, but they managed just five that day against the Dragons.

Stung by that 35-114 scoreline 11 weeks ago, you can bet the Storm will be breathing fire and determined to stand up and prove to Sandhurst just what Strathfieldsaye is all about.

A look at the Storm personnel playing this Saturday who were absent in round three - Matthew Smith, Leigh Prior, Tom Bartholomew, Lachlan Bonney, Sam Heavyside, Stephen Milne, Sam Mildren, Shaun Everington and captain Shannon Geary – indicates Strathfieldsaye will be much better equipped to take on the Dragons in the rematch.

A Strathfieldsaye win squares the ledger at 1-1 in the home and away season, but another loss and the Storm will enter a likely finals encounter against Sandhurst later this year in the back of their minds that the Dragons have had their measure both times.

Then again, Golden Square lost to Strathfieldsaye twice in the home and away season last year and beat the Storm twice in the finals, including on grand final day to win its fifth flag in a row. 

And Golden Square never beat Gisborne in the home and away season of 2012 before defeating the Gardiner Reserve Bulldogs in the grand final that year.

As for Sandhurst, the Dragons haven’t put a foot wrong all season as a perfect 11-0 record attests and a win on Saturday moves them two games clear at the top of the ladder and in the box seat to claim what would be a first minor premiership since 2001.

You can only beat the 22 pitted against you, but the big question mark on the Dragons is that as good as they were earlier in the season, the under-strength Strathfieldsaye was ripe for the picking in round three and how will they stand up against a Storm side with close to its best side finally out on the park?

The current Sportsbet premiership odds of the Storm at $1.66 and Dragons at $2.10 reflect a common thought around the BFL that pound for pound if you matched the two sides up at full strength, most would select the Storm with their plethora of star forwards and depth of midfield rotations to come out on top.

So as much as Saturday is about Strathfieldsaye bouncing back against a side that flogged it last time, you can’t help but think for all it has done so far this year in getting to round 12 unbeaten, the Dragons have a major point to prove as well at the QEO. 

Bring it on.

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