HIGH STAKES CLASH

CRUNCH GAME: Golden Square and Eaglehawk will lock horns in a crucial game.

CRUNCH GAME: Golden Square and Eaglehawk will lock horns in a crucial game.

AB: Aaaahhhhhh, Westy, can you smell it?

LW: Yep, Lucky Stew certainly has some issues.

AB: No, no, not Lucky Stew. Finals footy. 

We're at the business end of the season in the BFNL, HDFL and LVFNL and the finals are just around the corner.

In fact, there's some mini-finals being played on Saturday.

None bigger than the Golden Square versus Eaglehawk clash at Canterbury Park.

LW: With the door to the BFL top three now jammed shut and locked, the key interest from here is which of Golden Square, Kangaroo Flat and Eaglehawk will grab the other two spots.

It's certainly a different proposition to get to round 16 and be talking about Golden Square's finals hopes still up in the air.

But they left themselves vulnerable after last week's shock loss to Maryborough.

I would expect nothing less than a determined and desperate response from the Bulldogs this week, with one of the great traits of the club in years gone their ability to get themselves up for the big occasion.

AB: The Gisborne versus Sandhurst clash at Gardiner Reserve is a likely preview of the qualifying final in a month's time.

Can't help but be impressed by Gisborne's form in the past month, while the Dragons have probably just dropped off a touch.

Should be a cracking contest, with the Bulldogs to win a close one.

LW: The Bulldogs have certainly recovered well from that mid-season slump when they dropped three games in a row, which started against Sandhurst at the QEO in round seven when they were belted by 73 points in a margin that flattered them.

I reckon that day against Gisborne was probably the peak performance we've seen from Sandhurst so far this year.

For all the current talk of the dominance of Strathfieldsaye - and it's hard not to get caught up in the hype on the back of the Storm's 12 wins in a row - the Dragons are only 1.7 per cent shy of them on the ladder.

Having said that, I'm tipping the Bulldogs to avenge their earlier hiding from the Dragons and continue their impressive patch of form.

Plenty has been said about the Bulldogs' brutal second halves of late, but they had a different modus operandi last week in blowing Eaglehawk away in the first quarter. 

AB: Flag favourite Strathfieldsaye will be too strong for Kangaroo Flat, while the other two games - Castlemaine versus Kyneton and South Bendigo against Maryborough - could go either way.

I'm tipping Kyneton without any confidence to snap its losing streak against Castlemaine.

After watching Maryborough defeat Golden Square last week I have to tip the Magpies to make it two wins in a row.

The bigger ground at the QEO is a worry, but the Magpies' pressure and physicality was second to none last week.

Finally, Westy, do you like the idea of playing the BFNL, HDFL, LVFNL and NCFL grand final replays on the one day at the QEO next year?

LW: I'm all for anything that promotes the game.

It would obviously be a logistical challenge, but what a spectacle to open the 2015 season if it can all come together.

Watch this space.

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