BENDIGO LEAGUE – ROUND 7
MARYBOROUGH v KANGAROO FLAT
Would have been an opportunity knocking for both sides, which between them have just one victory for the season.
However, the Magpies on their home deck looked hard to beat as they strived to turn competitive outings in their past two games against Kyneton and Golden Square into a second victory for the season.
The developing Roos have been shown plenty of lessons over the season having already played the five sides currently in the top five over their first six games.
Last time: Maryborough 17.13 (115) def Kangaroo Flat 14.6 (90).
Since 1995: Maryborough 26; Kangaroo Flat 26.
GOLDEN SQUARE v SOUTH BENDIGO
Would have been a huge game between the Bulldogs and Bloods, who are among the group of four teams that are all on 4-2 records and separated by just percentage from second to sixth on the ladder.
After their flying 4-0 start the Bloods have dropped their past two games to Strathfieldsaye and Sandhurst and in the process, slipped from second to sixth, such is the evenness among the top group of teams.
Conversely, Golden Square has strung together two wins on the trot, beating Kangaroo Flat and Maryborough and now stabilising its list having - like many clubs - endured a string of injuries in the return after a year off.
The Bulldogs are a tough nut to crack at Wade Street - South Bendigo hasn't beaten Golden Square on its home deck since 2009 - but if the Bloods could have started well and got back to the pressure they applied against Gisborne in round four they would have been right in the contest.
Last time: Golden Square 14.13 (97) def South Bendigo 7.7 (49).
Since 1995: Golden Square 36; South Bendigo 25.
GISBORNE v KYNETON
Would have been a clash of the arch-rivals, who are both coming off victories in their last game.
Gisborne's gritty come-from-behind win over Eaglehawk last round is the type of win that can make a season given the Bulldogs found a way from 27 points down at three quarter-time at a notoriously difficult venue for visiting teams to win at - Canterbury Park - to beat a fellow flag contender.
Whenever the going gets tough in games this season, and it will again, the Bulldogs will always have that performance to draw back on to know that they can claw their way back against the odds.
At 3-3, Paul Chapman's Tigers have won the games they've been expected to against Kangaroo Flat, Castlemaine and Maryborough.
Now the challenge is can they claim a scalp of significance?
Unfortunately, that will have to wait.
Last time: Gisborne 9.15 (69) def Kyneton 0.1 (1).
Head to Head: Gisborne 28; Kyneton 10.
SANDHURST v EAGLEHAWK
Fittingly, the BFNL's showpiece venue, the QEO, would have hosted the marquee game of the round in what was to be a clash of first v second between the Dragons and Hawks.
The Dragons are flying at 6-0 and with a two-game buffer at the top of the ladder and a strong foundation having been laid for the all-important double chance come September.
Eaglehawk has had two weeks to lick its wounds after surrendering its position of dominance against Gisborne last round when it blew a 27-point three quarter-time lead and was beaten by four points at home.
The Hawks ran out of juice in the final quarter and were dominated out of the middle, with coach Travis Matheson no doubt having put plans in place to ensure there wouldn't have been a repeat of the fadeout and his side could go the distance.
The game would have featured three of the top four players in the Addy's BFNL rankings - big-bodied Eaglehawk midfielders Billy Evans (No.1) and Noah Wheeler (No.2) and Sandhurst ruckman Chris Down (No.4).
Last time: Eaglehawk 18.18 (126) def Sandhurst 7.11 (53).
Since 1995: Sandhurst 30; Eaglehawk 24; Drawn 1.
STRATHFIELDSAYE v CASTLEMAINE
Would have been tough for Castlemaine at Tannery Lane, where the Magpies are yet to win in 11 attempts.
The wide expanses of Tannery Lane and extra running required would have posed one of the many challenges for the young Magpies against the Storm, who have the momentum of four wins in a row behind them set up by strong first halves.
Last time: Strathfieldsaye 37.23 (245) def Castlemaine 4.4 (28).
Head to Head: Strathfieldsaye 20; Castlemaine 2.
LODDON VALLEY LEAGUE – ROUND 8
INGLEWOOD v MARONG
The Blues would be lamenting their past fortnight when they looked to have two genuine chances at snapping their lengthy winless drought present, but instead lost to Calivil United and Newbridge by a combined 155 points.
The Blues would have been back on their home ground to host Marong, which sits fourth with a 4-2 record and has the trio of Nathan Devanny, David Johnstone and Corey Gregg all in ripping form and Kain Robins among the competition's leading goalkickers with 26.
Last time: Marong 16.17 (113) def Inglewood 8.10 (58).
Since 1995: Marong 35; Inglewood 14; Drawn 1.
PYRAMID HILL v BRIDGEWATER
One of the big games across the weekend that won't get a start.
Two teams that entered the season with genuine flag expectation, with Bridgewater, in particular, living up to the hype so far.
After two years of rebuilding in 2018 and 2019 following their dynasty of success, the Mean Machine are back in their familiar position at the pointy end of the ladder, unbeaten with a 6-0 record and percentage of 317.0.
They've won 20 of 24 quarters and such is their variety of avenues to goal already have seven players with at least 10, led by Josh Martyn (27) and Alex Powell (22) with 49 between them.
While Pyramid Hill is travelling along solidly at 4-2, the Bulldogs have come up short in their two biggest challenges against Mitiamo and Marong and no doubt would have been champing at the bit to test themselves again against another of the competition big guns, particularly at home.
Pity it will have to wait.
Last time: Pyramid Hill 23.10 (148) def Bridgewater 8.8 (56).
Head to Head: Bridgewater 31; Pyramid Hill 25; Drawn 1.
BL-SERPENTINE v MAIDEN GULLY YCW
Yes, there's still plenty of the season to go, but unless there's a drastic change you can mark in Mitiamo, Bridgewater, Pyramid Hill and Marong to fill the top four spots, with the order to be decided.
And with Newbridge, Calivil United and Inglewood all doing it tough, that leaves Bears Lagoon-Serpentine and Maiden Gully YCW in a fight for fifth spot.
Currently, the Bears (3-3) hold onto it by a game from the Eagles (2-4), with this match set to have been a crucial one for both teams.
Had the Bears won it they go two games - plus percentage - clear in fifth spot and it's theirs to lose.
But had the Eagles - who have lost their past four - won, both sides would have been on even keel at 3-4 and their battle tightens up.
Instead, the status quo remains.
Last time: BL-Serpentine 11.13 (79) def Maiden Gully YCW 8.10 (58).
Since 1995: BL-Serpentine 30; Maiden Gully 24; Drawn 1.
NEWBRIDGE v CALIVIL UNITED
Disappointing for both the Maroons and Demons they won't get a crack at a second win on Saturday.
Genuine winning opportunities look like being few and far between for Newbridge and Calivil United this season, but both would have gone into this game confident they could get the points. Tough break.
Last time: Newbridge 9.10 (64) def Calivil United 8.8 (56).
Since 1995: Calivil United 37; Newbridge 20.
HEATHCOTE DISTRICT LEAGUE – ROUND 8
WHITE HILLS v LBU
Would have been without doubt the most anticipated clash of the season so far.
The Demons and Cats have been the two heavyweights of 2021, both undefeated and with combined percentages of 543.1.
Would have been a belter of a contest with a big crowd for what at this stage looks the grand final preview given their imposing records.
At least though there is the chance the league will only have to wait seven days for the two big guns to clash.
The HDFNL intends to play this weekend's scheduled round eight matches next Saturday, which if the Victorian lockdown is completed means we won't have to wait until round 17 for the Cats and Demons to finally go toe-to-toe. Bring it on.
Last time: LBU 25.11 (161) def White Hills 10.7 (67).
Head to Head: LBU 26; White Hills 15.
LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER v HUNTLY
For the Hawks - who served it right up to LBU in their last game - they now cop an extended break given they are coming off the bye.
They also miss out on the chance of ending a hoodoo against Leitchville-Gunbower given they have lost 12 in a row against the Bombers, who they last beat in 2014, but, hopefully, will get their crack next week.
For the Bombers, they are still hunting their first win.
Perhaps the chance to freshen up their young bodies will be a blessing.
Last time: Leitchville-Gunbower 17.5 (107) def Huntly 7.10 (52).
Head to Head: Leitchville-Gunbower 18; Huntly 4.
NORTH BENDIGO v ELMORE
Both teams would have been aiming to return to the winner's list following losses last week.
The Bloods are improving and despite a 2-5 record are only one game outside the top five, but would have had their work cut out for them trying to get their first win at Atkins Street since 2011.
Would have expected the Bulldogs to get over the line.
Last time: North Bendigo 12.19 (91) def Elmore 12.10 (82).
Head to Head: North Bendigo 29; Elmore 20.
HEATHCOTE v MOUNT PLEASANT
Would have been a tussle between two traditional rivals.
The Saints are on the improve and would have been no pushover on their home ground, while there's a sense that last week's 29-point victory over reigning premier North Bendigo was just the tonic Mount Pleasant needed to get its season rolling following a sluggish start, with their record now back on an even keel at 3-3.
Last time: Mount Pleasant 21.16 (142) def Heathcote 10.8 (68).
Since 1995: Mount Pleasant 36; Heathcote 16; Drawn 1.
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