BENDIGO FOOTBALL LEAGUE - ROUND 17
EAGLEHAWK (14-2) v CASTLEMAINE (2-14) - 2.20pm Saturday at Eaglehawk.
Last time the Magpies travelled to Canterbury Park they beat the Hawks by 25, but the two sides have taken vastly different paths in the 14 months since.
This time the Magpies venture to Canterbury Park to take on a red-hot Eaglehawk that sits on top of the ladder with 11 wins in a row.
The Hawks will celebrate the 10-year reunion of their 2007 premiership on Saturday, with that flag that broke a 25-year drought coached by Derrick Filo.
However, before he gets stuck into his celebrations and reminiscing, Filo has to first coach Castlemaine.
Last time: Eaglehawk 22.14 (146) d Castlemaine 6.4 (40).
GISBORNE (5-11) v MARYBOROUGH (1-15) - 2.20pm Saturday at Gisborne.
If the Bulldogs win – as expected – it would lift them to six wins, double their tally of last season.
Last time they met, the Bulldogs were given a mighty scare by the Magpies when they trailed at three quarter-time, before winning by 28 points.
But on their home deck at Gardiner Reserve this time, the Bulldogs should be far more convincing against a Magpies side that since breaking its 47-game losing streak has lost its past six, four of which have been by at least 100 points.
Last time: Gisborne 15.12 (102) d Maryborough 11.8 (74).
GOLDEN SQUARE (13-3) v KYNETON (10-5-1) - 2.20pm Saturday at Golden Square.
No love lost between these two teams given their fiery encounter in round eight when the Bulldogs scraped over the line by one point.
The Bulldogs enter the final two rounds of the season knowing they have a top three finish secured, while the Tigers are proving an interesting case study.
They have shown throughout the season they have the arsenal to trouble all sides, yet in six games against teams currently in the top five they have only beaten Sandhurst.
Against another top five side, how will the Tigers rebound from last week’s woeful second half showing against Eaglehawk?
Last time: Golden Square 16.15 (111) d Kyneton 17.8 (110).
SANDHURST (9-6-1) v KANGAROO FLAT (3-13) - 2.20pm Saturday at QEO.
After spending a month in an unfamiliar sixth position, the reigning premier Dragons are back in the top five.
And by 8pm Saturday night could have their September returned locked in with a win over the Roos, coupled with a South Bendigo loss to Strathfieldsaye.
The Roos’ one and only game of the season on the QEO won’t be easy against an opponent they have lost 12-straight against by an average of 72 points.
Last time: Sandhurst 21.10 (136) d Kangaroo Flat 12.6 (78).
STRATHFIELDSAYE (13-3) v SOUTH BENDIGO (9-7) - 5.30pm Saturday at Strathfieldsaye.
First game under lights at Tannery Lane for the Storm as they host the Bloods.
Shapes as a tough night for the Bloods trying to contain the Storm, who in their past four games have kicked scores of 168, 176, 162 and 150.
The Bloods have now lost control of their finals destiny after slipping to sixth last week with a third loss in a row, with their September hopes likely to be quashed if they can’t pull off an upset win against the Storm.
The Bloods will be extra keen to win the toss and try to take advantage if there’s any breeze in the first term. In their past four games they’ve gone into quarter-time trailing 15-41, 12-40, 6-28 and 7-20.
Last time: Strathfieldsaye 19.11 (125) d South Bendigo 7.4 (46).
• Round 17 tips:
Kieran Iles (68) - Eaglehawk (81), Gisborne (42), G. Square (7), Sandhurst (50), Strathfieldsaye (34).
Richard Jones (68) - Eaglehawk (90), Gisborne (67), G. Square (19), Sandhurst (53), Strathfieldsaye (49).
Luke West (66) - Eaglehawk (80), Gisborne (55), G. Square (15), Sandhurst (48), Strathfieldsaye (46).
Adam Bourke (65) - Eaglehawk (74), Gisborne (52), G. Square (8), Sandhurst (43), Strathfieldsaye (36).
CALIVIL UNITED (15-1) v BRIDGEWATER (12-5) - 2.15pm Saturday at Newbridge.
Between them one of Calivil United or Bridgewater has played in every Loddon Valley league grand final since 2002, winning a combined 13 of 15 premierships through that time.
By 5pm Saturday, one of the Demons or Mean Machine will have again booked a grand final berth.
The Demons will be fresh after a week off courtesy of finishing on top of the ladder, while the Mean Machine had to dig mighty deep to get over Newbridge by two points in a last-ditch effort in the qualifying final.
That result last week when the Mean Machine trailed by 15 points in the last quarter again proves they can never be discounted in a game.
But Calivil United already knows that – the Demons blew a 39-point half-time lead against the Mean Machine in their last encounter and lost by eight.
Rd 6 - Calivil United 14.6 (90) d Bridgewater 10.13 (73).
Rd 15 - Bridgewater 10.15 (75) d Calivil United 10.7 (67).
NEWBRIDGE (11-6) v MITIAMO (10-7) - 2.15pm Sunday at Bridgewater.
The big question in this game is how will Newbridge bounce back from last week?
The Maroons had Bridgewater on toast when they led the qualifying final by 15 points late in the last quarter, only to lose by two.
Rather than playing Calivil United for a grand final berth on Saturday, instead the Maroons are fighting for survival against the Superoos on Sunday.
Can the Maroons get themselves back up after last week’s deflating result, while the Superoos will have their tails up after beating Bears Lagoon-Serpentine by 35 points in the elimination final, and having already had Newbridge’s measure twice.
Rd 2 - Mitiamo 13.11 (89) d Newbridge 4.4 (28).
Rd 11 - Mitiamo 12.12 (84) d Newbridge 7.10 (52).
Luke West (56) - Calivil United (15), Mitiamo (6).
Adam Bourke (53) - Bridgewater (10), Newbridge (7).
Kieran Iles (53) - Calivil United (9), Newbridge (3).
LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER (15-1) v COLBINABBIN (11-5) - 2.15pm Saturday at Huntly.
The in-form Bombers will ride the momentum of a 10-game winning streak into the finals.
Normally, a 15-1 record and monster percentage of 292.1 should be enough to finish on top of the ladder, but the Bombers have had to settle for second and a qualifying final against Colbinabbin.
The Grasshoppers have had plenty of time to drill down on the Bombers in preparation for Saturday after having the bye last week on the back of six wins in their past seven games.
The fact the Bombers finished four games and 153 per cent clear of Colbinabbin suggests they should go in as overwhelming favourites, but expected muddy conditions should slow down some of their renowned run and spread.
Rd 1 - Leitchville-Gunbower 15.10 (100) d Colbinabbin 8.4 (52).
Rd 10 - Leitchville-Gunbower 11.18 (84) d Colbinabbin 7.12 (54).
HUNTLY (10-6) v WHITE HILLS (7-9) - 2.15pm Sunday at Colbinabbin.
This game has a similar feel to two years ago when the Hawks and Demons met in the elimination final.
The Hawks were red-hot favourites – as they are again on Sunday – but were upstaged by the Demons.
Having said that, it’s hard to get excited about the Demons’ prospects given their only win in their past six games was against wooden-spooner Mount Pleasant last week, while the Hawks are coming off a hat-trick of wins by more than 100 points.
If playing for their season isn’t enough motivation, the Demons have David Wright notching game 200.
Rd 3 - White Hills 14.14 (98) d Huntly 12.7 (79).
Rd 12 - Huntly 21.15 (141) d White Hills 13.8 (86).
Kieran Iles (62) - Leitchville (27), Huntly (39).
Adam Bourke (60) - Leitchville (36), Huntly (50).
Luke West (59) - Leitchville (24), Huntly (45).