NORTH Bendigo is back on a familiar stage as the Bulldogs prepare to contest their sixth-consecutive Heathcote District league grand final.
The Bulldogs have played in every grand final since 2014, and when you add in their 2012 loss to Lockington-Bamawm United, Saturday's clash against Colbinabbin at Huntly extends to seven flag deciders in eight years.
But given they've lost the past two grand finals and have "just" the two flags from their sustained run as a powerhouse, there will be a fierce determination among the playing group on Saturday to not let another opportunity slip.
The Bulldogs are the first team since Mount Pleasant between 1992 and 1997 to have made six-consecutive Heathcote District league grand finals, with the club boasting a 97-17 record from 114 games over the past six seasons.
Coached by Matt Dillon, the Bulldogs finished two games clear on top of the ladder and will be aiming to end the curse of the minor premier.
In what has been an anomaly of the HDFNL in recent years, the past five teams to have finished on top of the ladder have all lost the grand final.
The Bulldogs head into the grand final with a 16-2 record and coming off an ominous preliminary final win over Mount Pleasant, also at Huntly, last week.
A week after a disappointing showing in the second semi-final against Colbinabbin when they were beaten by 26 points, the Bulldogs hit back hard with a 90-point demolition of the Blues when they were back to their potent best kicking 24 goals
The Bulldogs' midfield boasts this season's Cheatley medallist in Joel Helman, as well as two other players who have won the league's top individual honour - captain Jarrod Findlay (2017) and Tyson Findlay (2014).
The return from a short-lived retirement of Brady Herdman has yielded 65 goals for the Bulldogs and Saturday presents the star forward with the chance of winning a ninth flag in his career.
If key forward Darcy Richards, who has been sidelined with a lower leg fracture suffered against Colbinabbin round 18, lines up on Saturday there will be 10 Bulldogs' premiership players from across 2015-16 in the side.
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