MOST Bendigo footy fans have already pencilled in Golden Square for a berth in this year’s grand final.
Golden Square has played in the past four BFNL grand finals and is chasing a club-first fourth-straight premiership.
The Bulldogs have found their best form at the right time of the season and are expected to progress to the grand final at the QEO on September 22.
Rookie Bulldogs’ coach Mark Lloyd is adamant that’s not the thought process at MyJet Oval.
“From on outside perspective there’s expectations that we should make the grand final,’’ Lloyd said before tomorrow’s qualifying final clash with arch-rival Sandhurst.
“Internally the guys know what we have to do.
“From the final siren at Maryborough last week our sole focus has been on Sandhurst this Sunday.
“The guys are very keen to get on the QEO on Sunday and put in a good showing against Sandhurst.”
Lloyd admits his side is playing its best football of the season, but remains wary of a “highly-talented” Sandhurst outfit.
“Gisborne deserves to be rated the premiership favourite and we’re 1-1 with Sandhurst this year,’’ Lloyd said.
“You look at the flag odds and it’s weighted heavily to us compared to Sandhurst, but there’s not a lot between the two sides.
“We’ve changed our mentality that we’re not the hunted anymore. We can go out and hunt sides.
“Since the heavy loss to Gisborne (round eight) we’ve started to play a brand of footy that we really like.”
Sandhurst’s well-drilled defence has suffocated rival forward lines this season.
Lloyd said the Bulldogs have done plenty of work on their inside 50 entries.
“We need our midfield to get the ball in quick because we’ll back our forwards in to kick a winning score,’’ Lloyd said.
“Speccy McGee loves to float back, play in the hole and cause Weeksy some grief, so we’ve got to be smart with our ball use.
“We can’t blaze away and play into McGee’s hands. We’ve got a few plans in place that can help Weeksy out and the rest of the side.
“Weeks has had an outstanding year, but we’ve got other avenues to goal.
“The forward line has been working really hard as a group.
“Weeksy is such a strong focus for other sides that he provides chances for our other forwards.”
Square has a different look this year, with six teenagers in tomorrow’s squad of 24 having not played in a senior finals series with the club.
Lloyd said the injection of youth had helped turn Square’s season around.
“The most pleasing thing for me this year is how well the younger guys have coped with senior footy,’’ he said.
“Hamish Morcom is a teenager, but has already played senior inter-league footy. Jake McLean was captain of our under-18 side and played inter-league at under-18 level.
“Our big name players get a lot of attention, but our younger guys have played strong footy.
“With the experienced guys alongside them I’m sure they’ll settle in well to senior finals and play well.”