BENDIGO FOOTBALL LEAGUE
STRATHFIELDSAYE (15-3) v GOLDEN SQUARE (14-3-1) - 6pm Saturday at QEO.
The Bendigo league finals kick off under lights on Saturday with two regular September combatants of recent years, Strathfieldsaye and Golden Square, locking horns.
The Bulldogs have had the wood over the Storm this year in winning their two home and away encounters by 14 and 46 points.
However, this time the Bulldogs will confront the Storm in ominous form having won their past six games by an average of 115 points, during which they’ve outscored their opposition in all 24 quarters.
The Bulldogs, who finished half-a-game behind Strathfieldsaye, will need to be at their defensive best, like they have in both games against the Storm this season when they’ve conceded just 16 goals, if they are to maintain the ascendancy over their rivals.
The winner meets Eaglehawk in the second semi-final next week.
Strathfieldsaye – In: J. Formosa, B. Lester, J. Donaldson. Out: A. Powell, B. Stringer.
Golden Square – In: C. Anderson, B. George, J. Rosengren, A. Baird. Out: J. Coad, H. Anderton, L. Marciano.
• This season:
Rd 2 - Golden Square 11.13 (79) d Strathfieldsaye 9.11 (65).
Rd 11 - Golden Square 15.9 (99) d Strathfieldsaye 7.11 (53).
SANDHURST (11-6-1) v KYNETON (10-6-2) - 2.20pm Sunday at QEO.
After two failed attempts the past two years, can Kyneton get past the elimination final?
The Tigers – who haven’t won a final since 1997 – meet reigning premier Sandhurst, which hits the finals on the back of four wins in a row.
One of the big questions heading into Sunday is which Kyneton will turn up: the one that pushed Golden Square all the way in a draw a fortnight ago, or the one that was thumped at home by Strathfieldsaye by 109 points last week?
The Tigers, who have had last year’s BFNL Rising Star winner Max O’Sullivan named in Richmond’s VFL elimination final team, are a much better side than what they showed last week in what was a dead rubber, but this time – and for the rest of the finals for whoever advances – it’s do or die.
If Sunday is anything like their round four draw at the QEO then it will be a cracker.
Sandhurst – In: N. Stagg, P. Craig, J. Coghlan, I. Ruff, Z. East Out: M. Gray, W. Long.
Kyneton – In: H. Huntley, D. Chambers, M. O'Sullivan, T. O'Sullivan, D. Davie, M. Hourigan Out: H. Ingleton, H. Moore.
• This season:
Rd 4 - Sandhurst 13.18 (96) dr Kyneton 14.12 (96).
Rd 13 - Kyneton 13.10 (88) d Sandhurst 10.7 (67).
Kieran Iles (76) - Strathfieldsaye (11), Sandhurst (21).
Richard Jones (76) - Strathfieldsaye (34), Sandhurst (26).
Luke West (74) - Strathfieldsaye (25), Sandhurst (15).
Adam Bourke (73) - Strathfieldsaye (22), Kyneton (8).
BRIDGEWATER (13-5) v CALIVIL UNITED (16-2) - 2.15pm Saturday at Serpentine.
The first premiership of the year will be decided on Saturday when Bridgewater and Calivil United go into battle.
Combined the two clubs have won 13 of the past 14 premierships, and one of the two have contested every grand final since 2002.
What shapes as a ripper of a contest is reflected in the Sportsbet odds for the game – the Mean Machine are $1.80 favourites, while the Demons are $1.90.
The two sides have met three times this season, with the ledger 2-1 in favour of Bridgewater – gunning for its eighth-straight flag – with the biggest margin having been the 17 points Calivil United won by in round six.
The two clubs will also face off in the reserves grand final.
Bridgewater – In: R. Ladson, J. Symons. Out: D. Harrison, P. Rothacker.
Calivil United – In: H. Miller. Out: B. Haines.
• This season:
Rd 6 - Calivil United 14.6 (90) d Bridgewater 10.13 (73).
Rd 16 - Bridgewater 10.15 (75) d Calivil United 10.7 (67).
Second semi-final - Bridgewater 13.13 (91) d Calivil United 12.10 (82).
Luke West (57) - Bridgewater (12).
Adam Bourke (56) - Calivil United (10).
Kieran Iles (54) - Calivil United (3).
NORTH BENDIGO (15-2) v HUNTLY (11-6) - 2.15pm Saturday at Elmore.
All season it has been touted as a Leitchville-Gunbower v North Bendigo grand final.
The Bombers have already won their way through to the decider, but Huntly has an opportunity to throw a curve ball ahead of next week when they play the Bulldogs in the preliminary final at Elmore.
The Bulldogs embarrassed the Hawks in round two when they demolished Huntly by 149 points.
However, the Hawks shaved 135 points off their losing margin in the return bout when they pushed the Bulldogs for the first time deep into the final quarter, before going down by 14.
That competitive effort will give the Hawks the belief that they can serve it right up to the Bulldogs, but their will effort needs to be at peak level for 120 minutes, not 115 like last time when the Bulldogs kicked two late goals to break away.
The Hawks won’t need any reminding of the damage North Bendigo full-forward Sam Barnes can inflict. He booted 10 goals in the Bulldogs’ preliminary final win over Huntly last year.
North Bendigo – In: A. Craig, R. Ford.
Huntly – In: N. Coyle, T. Paterson, A. Holland. Out: T. Skewes.
• This season:
Rd 2 - North Bendigo 27.25 (187) d Huntly 4.14 (38).
Rd 11 - North Bendigo 13.18 (96) d Huntly 12.10 (82).
Kieran Iles (64) - North Bendigo (27).
Adam Bourke (63) - North Bendigo (34).
Luke West (62) - North Bendigo (28).
WYCHEPROOF-NARRAPORT (14-1-1) v BIRCHIP-WATCHEM (11-5) - 2.30pm Saturday at Sea Lake.
The Demons and Bulls jostle for the first berth in the North Central grand final.
The Demons have carried the tag as flag favourites all season as just one loss and a monster percentage of 238.5 will attest to their dominance.
However, the Bulls have hit their straps at the right time of the season with five wins in a row, including the past four by 10 goals-plus to earn the double chance.
While the winner goes straight through to the grand final with another week off, awaiting the loser in the preliminary final is Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers – and newly-crowned Feeny medallist Ryan O’Sullivan.
Birchip-Watchem – In: S. Morales Out: Z. Holmes.
• This season:
Rd 4 - Wycheproof-Narraport 12.11 (83) d Birchip-Watchem 11.6 (72).
Rd 11 - Wycheproof-Narraport 12.11 (83) d Birchip-Watchem 8.8 (56).