THE roles will be reversed from round three on Saturday when Sandhurst locks horns with arch-rival Golden Square at the Queen Elizabeth Oval in the BFNL.
When they met earlier in the season it was a game in which the new-look Bulldogs had the opportunity to measure themselves against the much-hyped reigning premier Dragons.
The Dragons won that game under lights by 22 points – their sixth in a row against Golden Square.
Just over two months on, this time the Dragons will go into Saturday’s clash as the underdogs against an opponent that coach Wayne Primmer considers the yardstick of the competition, with the Bulldogs having won their past seven games.
“They are the form side at the moment and probably the yardstick of the competition,” Primmer said on Friday.
“It’s an important game, but I don’t think it’s any more important than the next six after it.
“I know it’s an old cliche, but right at this stage all we can focus on is just taking it one week at a time and trying to progress the best we can.
“If we get over this one then we work to the next one… if we don’t get over this one, then we try to work harder for the next one.”
While Primmer is treating the game no different to any other, the opportunity is on offer for the fourth-placed Dragons (7-3-1), who have Alex Wharton playing his 100th senior game, to move back within two points of the top three.
The Dragons have endured a wretched run with injury this season, with the side dealt more bad luck over the general bye with Andrew Collins now sidelined, while reigning Michelsen medallist Kristan Height has been named in the team, despite a thumb injury concern.
Collins suffered a hamstring injury training with the Victoria Country representative squad the day after Sandhurst’s win over Castlemaine last round.
Primmer accepts injuries are part of football, but queries why the Victoria Country squad was training the day after players had played.
“They are the cards we’ve been dealt, but I find it interesting they make players train on the Sunday after they have played a game of footy,” Primmer said.
“They don’t do it in the AFL and we don’t do it here as a club and I don’t think it’s a sensible thing to do.
“I don’t begrudge anyone trying to make those representative sides, but I can’t work out why they would run those players the day after a game… wouldn’t you just have a recovery session instead and make it a bit of a meet and greet?
“But that’s footy and we’ve just got to move on.”
Meanwhile, Golden Square is set to welcome back two of its key players for the clash, with co-captain Brayden Dorrington named after suffering a shoulder injury against Castlemaine on June 17, while key forward Dylan Johnstone has served a three-game suspension for rough conduct against Kyneton’s Hamish Govan.
“In the past three weeks that Dylan hasn’t played he has been fantastic around the club. He wasn’t happy with himself personally with what happened and was remorseful,” Square coach Bernie Haberman said.
“But he has trained really well. He has taken the criticism that was warranted, and some that perhaps wasn’t warranted, and we’re excited to have him back in our side on Saturday.”
SANDHURST (7-3-1) v GOLDEN SQUARE (9-2) - 2.20pm Saturday at QEO.
B: L. Ireland, A. Rootsey, A. Wharton
HB: C. Price, M. Thornton, L. O'Sullivan
C: Z. East, B. Holmes, X. Walsh
HF: J. Coghlan, T. Martin, B. Montague
F: D. Morris, M. Gray, L. Zimmer
R: L. Watson, J. Wharton, L. Coghlan
Int: O. McKinley, G. Munari, S. Greene, K. Height
In: A. Rootsey
Out: A. Collins
B: C. Anderson, W. Lee, Z. Keighran
HB: J. Coe, M. Dalrymple, L. Humphrey
C: J. Burke, J. Geary, I. Miller
HF: H. Morcom, J. Rosengren, J. Thrum
F: D. Johnstone, T. Baird, T. Toma
R: M. Compston, A. Baird, B. Welsh
Int: B. Dorrington, M. Treacy, D. Lowry, B. George, C. Draper
In: D. Johnstone, B. Dorrington, I. Miller
Out: D. Keating, R. Mutch
Last time: Sandhurst 11.10 (76) d Golden Square 6.18 (54).
Since 1995: Golden Square 29; Sandhurst 25.