THIS Saturday has the makings of one of the most exciting and telling days of the football season across the AFL Central Victoria region.
Throughout the Bendigo, Heathcote District, Loddon Valley and North Central leagues there are plenty of mouth-watering contests in what shapes as a Super Saturday of action.
After a week off for the general bye, the Bendigo league returns with what shapes as two ripping contests that feature the top four teams pitted against each other.
While it’s still only July, the QEO will have a September feel to it when fierce rivals Sandhurst (4th) and Golden Square (2nd) lock horns.
The Bulldogs head into the match with a 9-2 record and having won their past seven games, while it shapes as a golden opportunity on their home ground against an opponent they have won their past six against for the reigning premier Dragons to ignite their season.
With a 7-3-1 record, the Dragons are six points outside the top three and given they are only one game clear of sixth-placed Kyneton, have a fight of their hands just to get back to September.
The other marquee match in the Bendigo league features Eaglehawk (3rd) at home to Strathfieldsaye (1st).
Both teams have 9-2 records, with the game to provide an insight into just how much the Hawks – who have won six in a row – have advanced since early in the season when they copped a 57-point hiding off the Storm in round three.
As for the Storm, they will have had two weeks to stew on a 46-point loss to Golden Square in a result that kept them on top of the ladder, but now only percentage clear of both Square and the Hawks.
The Loddon Valley league also has two cracking contests to look forward to..
One of which is what is shaping as a grand final preview when Bridgewater hosts Calivil United in a 1 v 2 clash.
The Demons have answered every challenge thrown at them this season to sit two games clear in top spot with a 12-0 record.
But seven-time defending premier Bridgewater (10-3) has that ominous look about it with six wins in a row and playing much better than round six when it lost to the Demons by 17 points.
The other key game is Pyramid Hill (5th) at home to Mitiamo (6th), with the pair among three teams – along with Bears Lagoon-Serpentine – jostling for the last two spots in the finals.
The Bulldogs (6-6) and Superoos (6-7) are both on six wins, but Pyramid Hill has a game in hand, meaning the situation is getting critical for the under-performing Superoos if they lose a fourth game in a row.
The pivotal game in the Heathcote District league – where competitive matches have been a rarity – features Colbinabbin (8-4) at home to Huntly (7-4) in a clash of third v fourth that’s going to have a major bearing on which of them will end up with the double chance.
And in the North Central league the top four teams are all pitted against each other – Boort (2nd) at home to Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers (3rd) in a critical match for the double chance and Donald (4th) hosting flag favourite Wycheproof-Narraport (1st).