BENDIGO LEAGUE – ROUND 4
MARYBOROUGH v EAGLEHAWK
2.20pm Saturday at Maryborough.
Second of the reigning grand finalists the Magpies come up against in as many weeks.
Last Saturday it was Strathfieldsaye in a 96-point loss; on Saturday it's Eaglehawk at Princes Park.
While it ended up a heavy loss for the Magpies last week, they were talked up by opposing co-coach Shannon Geary for the pressure and tenacity they brought to the contest, which they will be striving to replicate for longer this week.
The Hawks are 2-1 and coming off a 228-point mauling of Castlemaine last week highlighted by recruit Darcy Richards' 10 goals.
The Hawks are favourites, but no doubt in the back of coach Travis Matheson's mind will be the struggles his side had to get over the top of the Magpies by 16 points in their last trip to Princes Park in 2019.
Last time: Eaglehawk 24.16 (160) def Maryborough 6.8 (44).
Since 1995: Eaglehawk 32; Maryborough 20.
KANGAROO FLAT v SANDHURST
2.20pm Saturday at Dower Park.
A superb start to the season for the Dragons - 3-0, which includes wins over two of their fellow top three contenders in Strathfieldsaye and Golden Square.
Having sat out two years of football, co-captain and gun midfielder Lee Coghlan hasn't missed a beat in his return having been the Dragons' best player in two of their three wins so far, while his fellow skipper Nick Stagg is enduring a stint on the sidelines with a hand injury.
Another tough day looms for James Flaherty's Roos, who while they may be 0-3 are getting games into kids, having already debuted nine first-gamers this year.
Last time: Sandhurst 23.18 (156) def Kangaroo Flat 5.2 (32).
Since 1995: Sandhurst 40; Kangaroo Flat 13.
CASTLEMAINE v KYNETON
2.20pm Saturday at Castlemaine.
Hard yards already for the young Magpies with three losses by 228, 113 and 106 points to start the season.
After last week's arduous day against Eaglehawk the Magpies should relish the chance to get back on their home ground and have a crack at the Tigers, who will be aiming to get their ledger back square at 2-2.
Big man Jordan Mangan has been flying for the Tigers in the opening three rounds to have been their standout.
Last time: Kyneton 14.11 (95) def Castlemaine 3.10 (28).
Since 1995: Castlemaine 26; Kyneton 23.
GOLDEN SQUARE v STRATHFIELDSAYE
2.20pm Saturday at Golden Square.
Two of the BFNL's big guns that have premiership ambitions face off in the match of the round.
After their 0-2 start to the season the Storm last week produced a scoreline that is more familiar with a comfortable victory over Maryborough, but heading to Wade Street certainly have the challenge ahead of them to avoid dropping to 1-3.
Having already lost to Sandhurst and Gisborne - albeit in tight games - getting a win over Golden Square for the seventh time in a row would be just the tonic for the reigning premier Storm to really get their season rolling.
Golden Square will be hunting a four-quarter performance on the back of last week's two-point loss to Sandhurst when the Bulldogs played a cracking last 15 minutes of football - but it came after they had been six goals down.
Last time: Strathfieldsaye 14.13 (97) def Golden Square 11.11 (77).
Head to head: Strathfieldsaye 15; Golden Square 13.
SOUTH BENDIGO v GISBORNE
2.20pm Saturday at QEO.
Great for the BFNL to have South Bendigo after years of building back up and going and showing itself to be a genuine finals proposition.
You would have got decent odds at the start of the season on the Bloods being 3-0, but that's just what they are for the first time since 2009.
In a further sign of the Bloods' development they not only beat Eaglehawk a fortnight ago, but then survived a danger trip to Kyneton and dug deep late last week to get the win.
Now awaits another test of their re-emergence against the visiting Gisborne for its first trip to the QEO since its losing 2019 preliminary final.
Always worth a look when a game features two of the competition's premier forwards as this does - South's Kaiden Antonowicz and Bulldogs' captain Pat McKenna.
Last time: Gisborne 20.14 (134) def South Bendigo 9.9 (63).
Head to head: Gisborne 29; South Bendigo 15.
Adam Bourke (12) - Eaglehawk, Sandhurst, Kyneton, Golden Square, Gisborne.
Richard Jones (12) - Eaglehawk, Sandhurst, Kyneton, Golden Square, Gisborne.
Luke West (11) - Eaglehawk, Sandhurst, Kyneton, Golden Square, Gisborne.
LODDON VALLEY LEAGUE – ROUND 4
CALIVIL UNITED v MITIAMO
2.15pm Saturday at Calivil.
All the signs point to Mitiamo improving its premiership defence to 4-0.
It's extremely tough going for the inexperienced Demons at the moment, particularly given they are a club that is so often associated with contending at the business end of the season, but has been held goal-less in two of its first three games.
According to coach Glen Scholtes, skill execution is letting his young side down considerably at the moment
Last time: Calivil United 11.9 (75) def Mitiamo 9.17 (71).
Since 1995: Calivil United 40; Mitiamo 25.
MARONG v PYRAMID HILL
2.15pm Saturday at Marong.
A keenly-anticipated match-up between two of the teams that have quickly established themselves among the top bracket.
Both the Panthers and Bulldogs are undefeated and in their five games combined have outscored their opposition 711-110 and each have percentages above 600.
Many pre-season pundits had Pyramid Hill among the top premiership contenders - and the Bulldogs have done nothing to suggest otherwise yet - with this a huge opportunity for the emerging Marong to really stake its claim and prove its credentials, particularly at home in the annual Michael Herrick Memorial Game.
Plenty of top talent on both sides sets up a cracking encounter.
Last time: Marong 11.10 (76) def Pyramid Hill 6.4 (40).
Head to head: Pyramid Hill 40; Marong 14.
BL-SERPENTINE v INGLEWOOD
2.15pm Saturday at Serpentine.
Both teams will be hunting their first wins of the season.
The Bears are coming off a bye last round following defeats to flag contenders Bridgewater (62 points) and Mitiamo (23) in the first two rounds.
The Blues are putting a team of kids on the park each week and the learning curve has been steep.
Last time: BL-Serpentine 17.17 (119) def Inglewood 10.7 (67).
Since 1995: BL-Serpentine 38; Inglewood 13.
NEWBRIDGE v BRIDGEWATER
2.15pm Saturday at Newbridge.
Two great rivals of the Loddon Valley meet, but the Maroons certainly look to have their work cut out for them at home.
While the Maroons are among the group of teams that have experienced a mighty tough start to the season, the Mean Machine are in the top tier of competitors where the gap so far has been substantial.
Last time: Bridgewater 17.19 (121) def Newbridge 7.7 (49).
Since 1995: Newbridge 28; Bridgewater 24.
Adam Bourke (12) - Mitiamo, Marong, BL-Serpentine, Bridgewater.
Luke West (12) - Mitiamo, Pyramid Hill, BL-Serpentine, Bridgewater.
HEATHCOTE DISTRICT LEAGUE – ROUND 4
LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER v COLBINABBIN
2.15pm Saturday at Leitchville.
The Bombers have been notoriously tough to beat on their home deck at either Leitchville or Gunbower, but in their re-build mode the trip north isn't the daunting prospect it used to be.
The Bombers are 0-3 and in the unfamiliar position on the bottom of the ladder as they prepare to face a Colbinabbin side that is 2-1 and got back to more of what was expected of it last week with a strong defensive game in a 65-point win over Huntly.
Last time: Colbinabbin 8.8 (56) def Leitchville-Gunbower 8.4 (52).
Head to head: Leitchville-Gunbower 12; Colbinabbin 10.
LBU v ELMORE
2.15pm Saturday at Lockington.
First-year coach Brodie Collins certainly has his Cats up and about early.
Back-to-back wins over fellow premiership contenders Mount Pleasant (47 points) and Colbinabbin (95) in the past fortnight has sounded an ominous warning to the competition.
The winless Bloods coming off the bye will have to be wary of the Cats' fast starts - LBU has led 63-13 and 48-8 at half-time its past two games to put its opposition to the sword early.
Last time: LBU 17.11 (113) def Elmore 9.6 (60).
Head to head: LBU 29; Elmore 16.
HUNTLY v MOUNT PLEASANT
2.15pm Saturday at Huntly.
Both the Hawks and Blues head into their clash at Huntly with one win apiece.
The Hawks and Blues have both boosted their lists considerably since their last seasons in 2019 and will be keen to see some early return on investment.
Among the new recruits to the Hawks is experienced defender Tyler Miles, who has made a strong start with his new club.
Last time: Mount Pleasant 16.11 (107) def Huntly 7.12 (54).
Since 1995: Mount Pleasant 33; Huntly 18.
WHITE HILLS v HEATHCOTE
2.15pm Saturday at White Hills.
White Hills' coach Sam Kerridge has his Demons flying.
They are 3-0 and last week became the team to end North Bendigo's 37-game winning streak at Atkins Street Oval dating back to June of 2015.
And to do it by the best part of 10 goals is testament to just how well the ladder-leading Demons with a percentage of 336.8 are going.
Star forward Jed Lamb leads the league goalkicking with 17 and superstar midfielder Kerridge is this week's No.1 in the Addy's HDFNL player rankings.
It's a testing assignment for the visiting Heathcote, but coach Wayne Primmer's side will be buoyed by its biggest win since 2012 last week when it belted Leitchville-Gunbower by 89 points.
The Saints - who are also sitting in the top five for the first since 2014 - will need to play every bit as well as they did last week, and then some, for four quarters if they are to serve it up to the Demons.
Last time: White Hills 14.9 (93) def Heathcote 9.6 (60).
Since 1995: Heathcote 28; White Hills 25.
Luke West (12) - Colbinabbin, LBU, Mount Pleasant, White Hills.
Adam Bourke (12) - Colbinabbin, LBU, Mount Pleasant, White Hills.
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