FOR the second time in as many weeks, reigning champion Eaglehawk finds itself in the Bendigo Amateur Soccer League men's division one match of the round.
The Hawks emerged with a draw in last weekend's season opener against Shepparton United and now face another stern test against last year's third-placed team Shepparton South.
But the 1-1 result against United came at a cost for the Hawks, who lost star midfielder Alex Caldow to a season-ending ACL injury.
Coach Greg Thomas, who missed the game due to a suspension incurred in last year's grand final at Shepparton, was full of praise for his players' efforts to force a draw in light of the injury and other absences.
The Hawks will not only be bolstered by the return of their coach this week, but also Scottish import Craig Rennie, who has played in both England and his home country.
Shepparton South was made to work hard for a 4-2 win against Colts United at McEwen Reserve last weekend after it trailed 1-2 at half time.
Second half goals to Kaine Humphries Joel Aitken and Kabir Larry Casey Kareem ensured a first-up win for South, who will be playing at home for the second week in a row.
After a first round bye, newcomers La Trobe University get its first slice of division one men's action against a rejuvenated Moama Echuca.
The Eagles men will be hoping to replicate the effort of their women's side, which began life with a 2-1 win over Spring Gully United.
They will have some work to do against a Border Raiders line-up, which underlined its potential improvement, with a 7-1 victory last week over Shepparton.
Ryan Perry and Mitch Langenbacher each scored two goals to set the groundwork for a big season ahead.
Epsom will also play its first game of the season at home against Colts United, while Golden City and Shepparton will be looking to open their account when they clash at Shadforth No.1.
The Rams will be attempting to bounce back from a 1-7 defeat to Strathdale in round one.
Shepparton United and Tatura and first round winners Strathdale all have second round byes.
In the women's championship, Moama-Echuca will look to continue its outstanding start against La Trobe University.
The Border Raiders could not have been more impressive than in an 18-0 win over Shepparton.
Natalie Sands and Courtney Ladgrove were the chief destroyers for Moama-Echuca with six goals apiece, and together with Alice Kettle (three goals), will be the players the Eagles will need to rein in.
Strathdale was equally impressive in defeating Golden City 13-0 and will look to back-up against Swan Hill, which drew 1-1 with Tatura in its season opener.
After a first round bye, Epsom will kick-off its season against Colts United, which lost 4-5 to Shepparton South in week one.
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