Weekend football preview, selections – BFNL, HDFNL, LVFNL

CHALLENGING SEASON: Maryborough's Miles Miranda. The Magpies are still striving for their first victory of 2018.

CHALLENGING SEASON: Maryborough's Miles Miranda. The Magpies are still striving for their first victory of 2018.

RELATED – LEAGUE LADDERS

• BENDIGO LEAGUE – ROUND 9

MARYBOROUGH v EAGLEHAWK

2.20pm Saturday at Maryborough.

It’s top v bottom as the Hawks travel to Princes Park to take on the Magpies.

The Hawks were ruthless last week in thrashing Kangaroo Flat by 167 points as they kicked their second score above 200 for the season.

Another big Hawks’ score is in the offering again on Saturday, particularly if the Magpies cough the ball up as regularly as they did against Sandhurst last week.

Last time: Eaglehawk 31.21 (207) d Maryborough 7.4 (46).

Since 1995: Eaglehawk 28; Maryborough 20.

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KANGAROO FLAT v STRATHFIELDSAYE

2.20pm Saturday at Kangaroo Flat.

No respite for the Roos, who after copping a 167-point belting from Eaglehawk last week now come up against a red-hot Storm.

New coach Troy Coates has the Storm firing with seven wins in a row – the past four in which they have kicked 24, 20, 27 and 24 goals.

That’s 95 goals in those four games, in which Lachlan Sharp has kicked 46, but he has a hamstring concern, which must be music to the ears of the Roos’ defence as they prepare to take on a side they have lost 14 in a row against.

Last time: Strathfieldsaye 25.18 (168) d Kangaroo Flat 4.1 (25).

Head to Head: Strathfieldsaye 15; Kangaroo Flat 3.

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CASTLEMAINE v SANDHURST

2.20pm Saturday at Castlemaine.

It’s hard yards for the Magpies, whose losing streak has hit seven in a row, which includes the past three defeats all in triple figures.

There were some positives, though, last week against Kyneton when the Magpies outscored the in-form Tigers in the third term and their tally of nine goals was their highest since round one.

Their next assignment is against the Dragons coming off a 107-point win over Maryborough highlighted by Taylor Strachan’s 10 goals.

Last time: Sandhurst 21.18 (144) d Castlemaine 6.4 (40).

Since 1995: Sandhurst 32; Castlemaine 15; Drawn 1.

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GOLDEN SQUARE v KYNETON

2.20pm Saturday at Golden Square.

Huge game at Wade Street between the Bulldogs and Tigers.

It’s a massive opportunity for the surging Tigers to set up their season as a win would give them a 10-point buffer inside the top three at the halfway mark.

The Tigers are riding the momentum of a five-game winning streak, while the Bulldogs have hit a speed-bump with back-to-back losses to Strathfieldsaye and Gisborne that has now left them in a position of facing a must-win game to keep in touch with the top three.

How will the Bulldogs – who have played 224 matches since they last lost three in a row in 2007 – respond with their backs to the wall?

Last time: Golden Square 10.11 (71) dr Kyneton 9.17 (71).

Since 1995: Golden Square 33; Kyneton 12; Drawn 1.

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SOUTH BENDIGO v GISBORNE

2.20pm Saturday at QEO.

Crunch game at the QEO between two sides that are just outside the top five – the Bulldogs on percentage and the Bloods by half-a-game.

The Bulldogs should be full of confidence on the back of three wins in a row, including the scalp of Golden Square last week, while the Bloods have the task of rebounding from an 87-point defeat to Strathfieldsaye.

Last time: South Bendigo 14.14 (98) d Gisborne 12.15 (87).

Head to Head: Gisborne 25; South Bendigo 15.

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• HEATHCOTE DISTRICT LEAGUE – ROUND 10

ELMORE v COLBINABBIN

2.15pm Saturday at Elmore.

It has been tough going for the Bloods, who begin the second half of the season still without a win on the board.

They are at home to the Grasshoppers, who will be fired up to bounce back after surrendering their position in the top three last week with a loss to North Bendigo.

Last time: Colbinabbin 22.16 (148) d Elmore 8.3 (51).

Since 1995: Colbinabbin 35; Elmore 16.

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NORTH BENDIGO v LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER

2.15pm Saturday at North Bendigo.

The Bulldogs v Bombers has become the marquee match on the league calendar given the rivalry they have forged on the back of three-straight grand finals against each other.

They may well be on the path to another grand final showdown given both are strongly positioned at the halfway mark with the Bombers on top and Bulldogs in third spot and each with percentages above 200.

PREPARATION: North Bendigo gears up for its big game against Leitchville-Gunbower at training during the week. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

PREPARATION: North Bendigo gears up for its big game against Leitchville-Gunbower at training during the week. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

The Bulldogs are playing on their home turf, where they have a massive advantage given they have won 24 in a row at Atkins Street and haven’t lost there since the Bombers beat them by 23 points in round nine of 2015.

Last time: Leitchville-Gunbower 8.21 (69) d North Bendigo 6.8 (44).

Head to Head: North Bendigo 14; Leitchville-Gunbower 8.

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LBU v MOUNT PLEASANT

2.15pm Saturday at Lockington.

Key game in the fight for fifth spot between the two improvers of 2018.

A Cats’ win at home and they will move two games, plus percentage, clear of the Blues inside the top five.

However, if the Blues prevail they will draw level on 16 points with the Cats and the tussle for the last berth in the finals will be very much game on.

Last time: LBU 20.11 (131) d Mount Pleasant 9.4 (58).

Head to Head: LBU 26; Mount Pleasant 14.

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WHITE HILLS v HUNTLY

2.15pm Saturday at White Hills.

The Hawks return from the bye for the clash with the Demons in what’s a battle between a side in premiership mode and a rebuilding team.

As such the Hawks are red-hot favourites, but coach Denis Grinton will no doubt recall their round one meeting when Huntly didn’t have it all its own way, particularly the first half.

Last time: Huntly 17.15 (117) d White Hills 9.9 (63).

Since 1995: Huntly 26; White Hills 24.

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• LODDON VALLEY LEAGUE – ROUND 9

CALIVIL UNITED v BL-SERPENTINE

2.15pm Saturday at Calivil.

The Bears are out of hybernation.

Following a 0-4 start, the Bears have now strung together three wins in a row, during which they have soared from the bottom of the ladder up to fourth.

The past two of the wins against Bridgewater (84 points) and Inglewood (128) they have had plenty of avenues to goal with 10 and 11 goalkickers.

They now meet fifth-placed Calivil United, which is also 3-4.

The winner squares their ledger at 4-4; the loser is under the pump at 3-5.

Last time: Calivil United 14.14 (98) d BL-Serpentine 9.6 (60).

Since 1995: Calivil United 31; BL-Serpentine 20.

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INGLEWOOD v MITIAMO

2.15pm Saturday at Inglewood.

The Blues will be aiming to arrest a five-game losing streak when they host Mitiamo, which lost its position in the top five while it had the bye last week.

Last time: Mitiamo 21.14 (140) d Inglewood 3.6 (24).

Since 1995: Mitiamo 38; Inglewood 10.

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BRIDGEWATER v MARONG

2.15pm Saturday at Bridgewater.

The Mean Machine are in the biggest slump they’ve endured for 12 years with a losing streak that has now hit four, which included an 84-point thrashing from the Bears last week.

PLENTY OF WORK TO DO: Bridgewater coach Dale Cameron. The Mean Machine have lost their past four games in the Loddon Valley league.

PLENTY OF WORK TO DO: Bridgewater coach Dale Cameron. The Mean Machine have lost their past four games in the Loddon Valley league.

They are now an unfamiliar 2-5 – the same record as their opponent, Marong – yet only one game outside the top five, giving both sides plenty of incentive in a season where just eight points is separating fourth to last.

Last time: Marong 15.12 (102) d Bridgewater 8.10 (58).

Since 1995: Bridgewater 29; Marong 20.

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NEWBRIDGE v MAIDEN GULLY YCW EAGLES

2.15pm Saturday at Newbridge.

Shades of the early 2000s when they played in back-to-back grand finals with the Maroons and Eagles sitting in the top two rungs on the ladder, each with 6-1 records.

No surprise to see the Maroons, who have won six in a row, in top spot given they were touted pre-season as the team to beat, but the Eagles have been the major surprise packets as they hunt a finals return for the first time since 2011. 

Last time: Newbridge 17.17 (119) d Maiden Gully YCW 6.9 (45).

Since 1995: Newbridge 28; Maiden Gully YCW 20.