North still top Dog: Hogan

Jamie Hogan addresses his players for the final time in the preliminary final. Picture: ADAM BOURKE
Jamie Hogan addresses his players for the final time in the preliminary final. Picture: ADAM BOURKE

North Bendigo is still the best team in the HDFNL, according to outgoing Huntly coach Jamie Hogan.

Hogan’s Hawks had their season finished by North Bendigo in the preliminary final and he expects the Bulldogs to win a third-straight flag against Leitchville-Gunbower this Saturday.

Despite having injury concerns, Hogan said the Dogs had the depth and firepower to see off the Bombers.

“With the injuries they have, North will find it hard to win next week, but I’m still going to back them to do it,’’ Hogan said.

“I think they’ll find a way to get the job done.”

The Dogs have already ruled out Tyson Findlay (hamstring) and Brett Strange (knee), while Joel Helman (ankle) has to prove his fitness this week.

Hogan said the experience and class of North Bendigo’s backline was the key to the Dogs’ success.

“They’ve been a tight unit for three or four years now and they know how each other plays,’’ Hogan said of the Dogs’ backline.

“They back each other up and they’re really skilful in the way they bring the ball out of the backline.

“I thought they were fantastic (in the preliminary final).”

Hogan has stepped down as coach of the Hawks after three years in charge.

The Hawks finished third in 2016 and 2017.

“We’re a bit unlucky to run into a couple of very good teams (North Bendigo and Leitchville-Gunbower) at the same time,’’ Hogan said.

“It would have been nice to make a grand final, but I have no regrets.

“The club is in a strong position on and off the field and they’ll have a coaching announcement to make in the next few weeks.”

Hogan said he expected his 2017 co-coach Ryan Semmel to play on with the Hawks in 2018.