BENDIGO LEAGUE - RD 12
MARYBOROUGH (1-10) v SOUTH BENDIGO (7-4) - 2.20pm Saturday at Maryborough.
Disappointing news for the Bloods this week with the season-ending knee injury to coach Brady Childs.
The Bloods are clinging onto their spot in the top five by half-a-game from the chasing Kyneton and should maintain that small buffer with a win over the Magpies, but not by the 159-point margin they beat Maryborough by in round three.
Last time: South Bendigo 28.18 (186) d Maryborough 4.3 (27).
CASTLEMAINE (1-10) v KYNETON (6-4-1) - 2.20pm Saturday at Castlemaine.
It was ugly last time these two sides met when the Tigers thumped the Magpies by 155 points.
Ben Weightman (10) and Mitch Scholard (7) combined for 17 goals for the Tigers that night and curtailing the influence of Kyneton’s two spearheads shapes as another difficult assignment for the bottom-placed Magpies, whose losing streak has now hit 10.
The Tigers added a new player to their list just before the June 30 clearance cut-off in Lanze Magin, who is set to add to their midfield depth.
Last time: Kyneton 31.16 (202) d Castlemaine 6.11 (47).
EAGLEHAWK (9-2) v STRATHFIELDSAYE (9-2) - 2.20pm Saturday at Eaglehawk.
Big game at Canterbury Park between two top three teams in the Storm (1st) and Hawks (3rd).
When they met in round three the Storm dished out a 57-point hiding to the Hawks, who barely fired a shot. However, the Hawks have since won seven of their past eight games, including three of their past four by at least 100 points.
The Storm will be on the rebound from a 46-point loss to Golden Square, with the match to feature two of the league’s top three goalkickers in Strathfieldsaye’s Lachlan Sharp (62) and the Hawks’ Matt Gretgrix (58), who has kicked bags of 7, 8, 11, 9 and 7 in his past five games.
Last time: Strathfieldsaye 17.7 (109) d Eaglehawk 7.10 (52).
GISBORNE (3-8) v KANGAROO FLAT (2-9) - 2.20pm Saturday at Gisborne.
After winning three games last year, the Bulldogs should surpass that tally at home on Saturday when they host the Roos, who have lost their past six by an average of 85 points.
While the Roos may be struggling, Bulldogs coach Brad Spear will no doubt remind his players of the first half they produced against Gisborne in round three when Kangaroo Flat led by 34 points at the main break, before being over-run and losing by 16.
Last time: Gisborne 12.8 (80) d Kangaroo Flat 9.10 (64).
SANDHURST (7-3-1) v GOLDEN SQUARE (9-2) - 2.20pm Saturday at QEO.
Massive game in the context of the season for the two arch-rivals.
The Bulldogs can keep themselves firmly entrenched in the top three with an eighth win in a row, while adding another nail to the coffin of Sandhurst’s double chance hopes.
However, if the Dragons can get up – as they have done in their past six games against Golden Square – they will be back within half-a-game of the top three and the coveted double chance still in sight.
Last time: Sandhurst 11.10 (76) d Golden Square 6.18 (54).
• Round 12 tips:
Kieran Iles (48) - South Bendigo (80), Kyneton (50), Eaglehawk (3), Gisborne (17), Golden Square (17).
Richard Jones (46) - South Bendigo (76), Kyneton (59), Eaglehawk (8), Gisborne (32), Golden Square (17).
Luke West (46) - South Bendigo (60), Kyneton (90), Strathfieldsaye (6), Gisborne (40), Golden Square (15).
Adam Bourke (45) - South Bendigo (60), Kyneton (80), Strathfieldsaye (25), Gisborne (20), Sandhurst (1).
LODDON VALLEY - RD 15
MARONG (3-9) v MAIDEN GULLY YCW EAGLES (2-10) - 2.15pm Saturday at Marong.
A fortnight ago Marong was languishing with a 1-9 record. But having since beaten Mitiamo and Inglewood, the Panthers are now presented with a golden opportunity to win three games in a row.
The Eagles haven’t won since beating the Panthers by one point in round six.
Last time: Maiden Gully YCW Eagles 12.4 (76) d Marong 10.15 (75).
BRIDGEWATER (10-3) v CALIVIL UNITED (12-0) - 2.15pm Saturday at Bridgewater.
This clash has all the makings of a grand final preview between the top two teams.
Another victory for the undefeated Demons would guarantee they finish on top for the first time since 2005 and further enhance their premiership credentials.
The Demons beat Bridgewater by 17 points in round six, but the Mean Machine has improved significantly since then and playing on their home ground, this points to one of the games of the season.
Last time: Calivil United 14.6 (90) d Bridgewater 10.13 (73).
PYRAMID HILL (6-6) v MITIAMO (6-7) - 2.15pm Saturday at Pyramid Hill.
Mitiamo coach Justin Maddern maintains his Superoos are good enough to still be a team of significance this year, but the clock is ticking.
The Superoos have lost their past three to have fallen outside the top five, and they now come up against a Bulldogs side that is also on six wins and has regained its mojo.
There may be room for only one of these teams in the finals, which makes this clash season-defining.
Last time: Pyramid Hill 11.8 (74) d Mitiamo 6.13 (49).
BEARS LAGOON-SERPENTINE (7-5) v INGLEWOOD (1-12) - 2.15pm Saturday at Serpentine.
The Bears were superb last week in knocking over Mitiamo by 10 goals to move back into the top five, and should take another step towards a finals berth with a win over the Blues, who look headed for their sixth wooden spoon in the past seven years.
Last time: BL-Serpentine 14.14 (98) d Inglewood 9.8 (62).
• Round 15 tips:
Adam Bourke (44) - Maiden Gully YCW (14), Calivil United (8), Pyramid Hill (15), BL-Serpentine (60).
Luke West (43) - Marong (6), Bridgewater (7), Pyramid Hill (10), BL-Serpentine (50).
Kieran Iles (39) - Maiden Gully YCW (7), Calivil United (12), Mitiamo (7), BL-Serpentine (55).
HEATHCOTE DISTRICT - RD 14
LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER (10-1) v HEATHCOTE (3-9) - 2.15pm Saturday at Gunbower.
The Bombers have kicked back-to-back scores of 212 and 203 the past two weeks against Elmore and Mount Pleasant and should boot another massive tally at home against the Saints, who have lost five in a row.
Last time: Leitchville-Gunbower 16.14 (110) d Heathcote 5.11 (41).
COLBINABBIN (8-4) v HUNTLY (7-4) - 2.15pm Saturday at Colbinabbin.
The Grasshoppers and Hawks are locked in a fight for third spot, with this game set to have a massive bearing on the double chance.
The Grasshoppers are holding onto it at the moment, but the Hawks are coming hard and have also had the wood over Colbinabbin recently, winning their past three encounters.
Last time: Huntly 12.13 (85) d Colbinabbin 10.19 (79).
LBU (3-9) v NORTH BENDIGO (11-0) - 2.15pm Saturday at Lockington.
This may be the worst week for any team to cop the Bulldogs given North Bendigo coach Rob Bennett has labelled his side’s past two performances their worst of the year – albeit still wins against top-five sides in White Hills and Huntly.
You get the feeling the Cats are going to run into a Bulldogs’ side hellbent on returning to the high standards Bennett demands.
Last time: North Bendigo 25.20 (170) d LBU 8.5 (53).
MOUNT PLEASANT (2-9) v ELMORE (2-10) - 2.15pm Saturday at Toolleen.
Chance for both teams to notch a third win for the season and for the winner to likely avoid the wooden spoon.
Last time: Mount Pleasant 14.10 (94) d Elmore 10.13 (73).
• Round 14 tips:
Kieran Iles (45) - Leitchville (88), Colbinabbin (9), North Bendigo (86), Elmore (11).
Adam Bourke (44) - Leitchville (110), Huntly (12), North Bendigo (95), Elmore (24).
Luke West (43) - Leitchville (120), Huntly (12), North Bendigo (115), Elmore (30).