READ MORE - BENDIGO ADDY FOOTY CHALLENGE - Week 19 scores
BENDIGO LEAGUE – ROUND 18
KANGAROO FLAT v EAGLEHAWK
2.20pm Saturday at Kangaroo Flat.
Curtain comes down on a season at Dower Park that started with plenty of optimism that the Roos would be improved this year, but unless they can pull off a massive upset against the Hawks they will end 2019 with the same number of wins as the past two years - four.
The Hawks, though, have another finals campaign to look forward to and should hit September on an 11-game winning streak and riding a strong wave of momentum into their tilt at back-to-back flags.
The Hawks continue to grind teams into submission - they are +66, +49, +24, +17, +71, +84, +60, +16, +27 and +42 in second halves during their 10 wins in a row.
Last time: Eaglehawk 22.191 (151) def Kangaroo Flat 8.10 (58).
CASTLEMAINE v SOUTH BENDIGO
2.20pm Saturday at Castlemaine.
Have the Magpies got one big effort in them on their home deck to avoid a winless season?
There was a tremendous buzz down at Camp Reserve the Friday night in February when the Magpies unveiled Angus Monfries and a host of new recruits, but what has unfolded has been yet another year of hefty defeats.
The Bloods have won two of their past three games and - barring becoming the first team to lose to Castlemaine since April last year - will make it three out of four to end the season.
Last time: South Bendigo 21.24 (150) d Castlemaine 7.11 (53).
GISBORNE v GOLDEN SQUARE
2.20pm Saturday at Gisborne.
Mathematically, there's still a chance Golden Square can replace Gisborne in third spot, but to do that would need to win by a massive margin that would make up a 35 percent gap.
So with that out of the question, this game presents both teams with nothing more than a pre-finals tune-up.
You'd think Gisborne players would have had this re-match penciled in since the day they walked off Wade Street back in round nine having kicked just four goals and been comprehensively outplayed by Square.
However, since that win over Gisborne when they absolutely stifled their Bulldog counterparts, Square is 0-3 against fellow top-five sides. Can they re-discover that round nine mojo on the eve of the finals?
Last time: Golden Square 8.15 (63) def Gisborne 4.8 (32).
KYNETON v SANDHURST
2.20pm Saturday at Kyneton.
The four-and-a-bit season coaching stint of Luke Beattie comes to a close at the Tigers with a home game against the Dragons.
No doubt the Tigers will be giving their all to send Beattie out on a high against the Dragons, who have strong motivation of their own - to make sure they hit the finals on the back of a strong performance.
Last time: Sandhurst 14.11 (95) def Kyneton 10.7 (67).
STRATHFIELDSAYE v MARYBOROUGH
3.30pm Saturday at Strathfieldsaye.
Outgoing coach Ben Lavars has done a power of work in steering Maryborough back in the right direction and whoever inherits the Magpies job will do so with the outlook far more positive than when Lavars took it on two years ago.
But Lavars' swansong game couldn't be any tougher - heading to Tannery Lane to take on a ruthless Storm side that has outscored its opposition 1029-297 in its past seven games.
The name Lachlan Sharp must be the stuff of nightmares for Maryborough defenders given the Storm star has kicked bags of 16, 11, 12 and 14 - a total of 53 goals - in his past four games against the Magpies.
Last time: Strathfieldsaye 29.16 (190) def Maryborough 6.10 (46).
PYRAMID HILL v MITIAMO
2.15pm Saturday at Serpentine.
First spot in the grand final on the line when the Bulldogs and Superoos clash in the second semi.
The top-of-the-ladder Bulldogs earned last week off and the chance to rest any niggles and freshen up.
The Superoos will carry plenty of momentum into Saturday given the way they finished off the qualifying final against Bears Lagoon-Serpentine last week with a six-goal to one final quarter.
The two sides are 1-1 against each other this year and, hopefully, for spectators the contest replicates their first semi-final match-up of last year when the Superoos edged out the Bulldogs by one point.
Round 2 - Pyramid Hill 18.11 (119) def Mitiamo 9.10 (64).
Round 11 - Mitiamo 14.11 (95) def Pyramid Hill 12.10 (82).
BL-SERPENTINE v MAIDEN GULLY YCW
2.15pm Sunday at Mitiamo.
The Bears have had the measure of the Eagles both times this season, winning their two home and away encounters comfortably by 38 and 22 points.
The Bears used up their double chance last week with their qualifying final loss to Mitiamo, while the Eagles finished full of run in their 33-point elimination final win over Calivil United.
The Bears were unable to curtail the influence of Mitiamo's Justin Maddern (seven goals) and now face another strong forward presence in Eagles' coach Wayne Mitrovic, who bagged a decisive six goals last week
If Mitrovic gets off the leash again the Eagles will be hard to stop, but the same could be said also if the in-form Nathan Twigg can control the ruck for the Bears and get first use to the likes of Matthew Gibbs, Harry Gadsden, Justin Laird, Billy Hawkes and co in the midfield.
Round 9 - BL-Serpentine 15.10 (100) def Maiden Gully YCW 8.14 (62).
Round 18 - BL-Serpentine 10.14 (74) def Maiden Gully YCW 7.10 (52).
LBU v COLBINABBIN
2.15pm Saturday at Gunbower.
Shapes as a contrasting match given the attacking Cats who have a plethora of goalkicking options against the Grasshoppers, who are renowned for their strong defensive structures.
On both occasions this year it has been the Cats who have had the edge, with LBU winning their two home and away encounters by 36 and 13 points.
In both games the Cats got the jump on the Grasshoppers, leading 55-19 and 42-7 at quarter-time, which will no doubt have Colbinabbin coach Julian Bull placing extra emphasis on the need for his side to settle early and get themselves in the game from the outset.
Round 2 - LBU 17.11 (113) def Colbinabbin 11.11 (77).
Round 11 - LBU 11.3 (69) def Colbinabbin 8.8 (56).
MOUNT PLEASANT v WHITE HILLS
2.15pm Sunday at Lockington.
The first taste of finals action since 2014 for the Blues, while the Demons have recovered from their shaky start early in the year to get their crack at the business end of the season.
The chance to see two class forwards in Mount Pleasant's Ben Weightman and White Hills' Jed Lamb will be worth the price of admission alone.
The Blues' best this year has been good enough to beat top two sides North Bendigo and LBU, while if the likes of Lamb (51 goals), coach Sam Kerridge (Cheatley Medal runner-up) and Mitch Dole (54 goals) all fire for the Demons, White Hills will be mighty dangerous.
Round 2 - Mount Pleasant 18.14 (122) def White Hills 11.6 (72).
Round 11 - White Hills 11.11 (77) def Mount Pleasant 5.9 (39).
CHARLTON v DONALD
2.30pm Saturday at Birchip.
Round 6 - Charlton 10.20 (80) def Donald 12.4 (76).
Round 13 - Charlton 8.19 (67) def Donald 4.9 (33).
BENDIGO ADVERTISER TIPSTERS:
Luke West (74) - Eaglehawk, South Bendigo, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye.
Adam Bourke (73) - Eaglehawk, South Bendigo, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye.
Richard Jones (72) - Eaglehawk, South Bendigo, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye.
Kieran Iles (67) - Eaglehawk, South Bendigo, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye.
Anthony Pinda (67) - Eaglehawk, South Bendigo, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Strathfieldsaye.
Adam Bourke (56) - Pyramid Hill, BL-Serpentine.
Anthony Pinda (53) - Pyramid Hill, Maiden Gully YCW.
Kieran Iles (52) - Pyramid Hill, BL-Serpentine.
Luke West (51) - Mitiamo, BL-Serpentine.
Luke West (64) - LBU, White Hills.
Adam Bourke (61) - LBU, White Hills.
Kieran Iles (57) - Colbinabbin, White Hills.
Anthony Pinda (56) - Colbinabbin, Mount Pleasant.
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