KANGAROO FLAT v SOUTH BENDIGO
2.20pm Saturday at Kangaroo Flat.
Back on its home ground Kangaroo Flat will be striving to give a much better account of itself than last week's 159-point hiding from Strathfieldsaye.
The Roos host a Bloods' side that sits a game outside the top five and is coming off a 51-point victory over Maryborough last week led by a best-on-ground performance from forward/mid Michael Herlihy, which included a season-high 33 possessions as well as 10 marks.
Herlihy has featured among the Bloods' best players in seven of their eight games, while coach Nathan Horbury just keeps finding the pill having racked up another 42 touches last week.
Last time: South Bendigo 24.11 (155) def Kangaroo Flat 9.12 (66).
Since 2010: South Bendigo 15; Kangaroo Flat 7.
GOLDEN SQUARE v STRATHFIELDSAYE
2.20pm Saturday at Golden Square.
After a 4-0 start to the season the Bulldogs have since gone 1-3 over their past four games and if they get rolled at home by the Storm are most likely going to be outside the top three at the halfway mark.
The Bulldogs battled manfully against Gisborne for three quarters last week, but couldn't go the distance and were beaten by 15 points.
Just like last week, it's unlikely that anything other than a four-quarter performance will be good enough to topple the second-placed Storm, who are coming off a 159-point demolition of Kangaroo Flat last Saturday.
Despite the injury-interrupted season to star forward Lachlan Sharp, there has been no shortage of goalkicking options for the Storm, who are averaging almost 10 goalkickers per game this year.
Last time: Strathfieldsaye 12.23 (95) def Golden Square 12.8 (80).
Since 2010: Strathfieldsaye 16; Golden Square 11.
EAGLEHAWK v GISBORNE
2.20pm Saturday at Eaglehawk.
Given the injury toll being felt at Eaglehawk this week, the Borough certainly look like being up against it at home against the undefeated Bulldogs.
Clayton Holmes (shoulder), Charlie Langford (broken hand), Lewin Davis (hamstring), Shaun Knott (calf), Kobe Lloyd (hamstring) and Dylan Hanley (hamstring) have all been on an extensive injury list for the Hawks, while Noah Wheeler (hamstring) is no certainty to take on the Bulldogs.
Wheeler has been a bull through the midfield for the Hawks and is their No.1 ranked player according to Premier Data.
The Bulldogs continue to answer every challenge thrown at them, last week absorbing an early barrage from Golden Square to win by 15 points.
Premier Data has the Bulldogs ranked No.1 when it comes to contested possessions (117.9 per game), contested marks (17.0), intercept marks (18.4), clearances (46.3), inside 50s (60.9), ground ball gets (137.0), loose ball gets (101.6) and smothers (6.1) - just some of the numbers that have the ladder-leaders carrying the mantle as the team to beat.
Last time: Gisborne 9.13 (67) def Eaglehawk 8.15 (63).
Since 2010: Eaglehawk 18; Gisborne 8.
SANDHURST v CASTLEMAINE
2.20pm Saturday at QEO.
Will be intriguing to see just how Castlemaine responds from its near-miss against Eaglehawk last week.
The Magpies narrowly missed out on pulling off their greatest win for years when they fell one-point short against the Hawks.
Does such an agonising defeat flatten the Magpies, or does it give them the impetus to travel up to the QEO with some genuine belief that if they can bring four quarters of intensity they can be right in this contest as well against an opponent they haven't beaten since 2009.
Sandhurst also has to back up from a near-miss last week when the Dragons spent the bulk of the day in front against Kyneton - and were leading as late as the 36-minute mark of the last term - before losing by 11 points.
The Dragons are now two games outside the top five and very much with the job in front of them if they are to maintain an unbroken run of finals appearances that stretches back to 2010.
Last time: Sandhurst 31.21 (207) def Castlemaine 2.7 (19).
Since 2010: Sandhurst 20; Castlemaine 0; Drawn 1.
MARYBOROUGH v KYNETON
2.20pm Saturday at Maryborough.
Four wins in a row and the prospect of reaching the halfway mark of the season in the top three - there's certainly a buzz around the resurgent Kyneton.
It has long been said that the BFNL is at its best when its country clubs are strong and right now two of its in-form teams are Gisborne and Kyneton.
Can't help but admire the fighting qualities of the Tigers, whose winning streak features victories over Kangaroo Flat (79 points), Golden Square (7), Eaglehawk (21) and Sandhurst (11).
The last three of those wins against the Dragons, Hawks and Bulldogs had all been up for grabs at three quarter-time, but it was the Tigers who have taken their chances and now at 5-3 are laying a strong foundation for a September tilt.
Maryborough is coming off arguably its most competitive performance of the season last week when it went down to South Bendigo by 51 points in a game where they had three players - Aiden Hare (46), Jacob Lohmann (45) and Coby Perry (40) - combine for 131 touches.
Last time: Kyneton 17.13 (115) def Maryborough 12.12 (84).
Since 2010: Kyneton 12; Maryborough 7.
Luke West (34) - South Bendigo, Strathfieldsaye, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Kyneton.
Adam Bourke (33) - South Bendigo, Strathfieldsaye, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Kyneton.
Richard Jones (32) - South Bendigo, Golden Square, Gisborne, Sandhurst, Kyneton.
LBU v WHITE HILLS
2.15pm Saturday at Lockington.
The start of a daunting four-week gauntlet for White Hills, which over the next month faces all four of the top teams in a mighty tough stretch.
First-up is the Cats in front of what should be a big crowd at Lockington given the club is hosting a reunion day.
The Demons have defeated Huntly and Leitchville-Gunbower over the past fortnight, but it's a massive step-up in opposition they confront against the second-placed Cats.
Recruit Liam Bartels has been quick to make an impression at the Demons, kicking 17 goals across his first four games for the club to race to the top of their goalkicking.
At the Cats, reigning Cheatley medallist Tyler Phillips has picked up from where he left off last year with a strong first half of the season in the ruck. Could he be headed for back-to-back?
Last time: LBU 20.12 (132) def White Hills 9.9 (63).
Since 2010: LBU 17; White Hills 6.
HUNTLY v HEATHCOTE
2.15pm Saturday at Huntly.
Heathcote is on its best winning streak since 2013 having notched three victories in a row to be sitting in fifth position at the halfway mark of the season.
The Saints are playing an entertaining brand of football having kicked at least 100 points in all three of their wins over Leitchville-Gunbower (100), White Hills (130) and Elmore (127).
Before this year the Saints had kicked at least 100 points just three times in their previous 54 games.
The Hawks begin the second half of their season still without a win and aren't helping their cause with some poor kicking at goal.
Huntly is converting at just 44.2 per cent having kicked 57.72. Every other team is converting at at least 51 per cent.
Last time: Heathcote 13.8 (86) def Huntly 8.13 (61).
Since 2010: Huntly 16; Heathcote 6.
MOUNT PLEASANT v ELMORE
2.15pm Saturday at Toolleen.
Would expect the Blues to pick up from where they left off last week when they became the first team this season to defeat Colbinabbin.
Elmore will have to do a much better job of getting out of the blocks than last week against LBU when the Bloods were already 57 points down at quarter-time, particularly given the Blues are the best starting team in the competition.
Last time: Mount Pleasant 13.20 (98) def Elmore 8.13 (61).
Since 2010: Mount Pleasant 13; Elmore 8; Drawn 1.
NORTH BENDIGO v COLBINABBIN
2.15pm Saturday at North Bendigo.
The Grasshoppers will be on the rebound from their first loss of the season, while the Bulldogs have had a freshen up following a bye.
A couple of the competition's most exciting forwards will be in action in North Bendigo's Dylan Klemm and Colbinabbin's James Brain in what should be a highly-contested game on the small confines of Atkins Street where the Grasshoppers haven't beaten the Bulldogs since 2013.
Should be two fired up teams with the Grasshoppers looking to bounce back and the Bulldogs risking dropping two games outside the top three if beaten.
Last time: Colbinabbin 9.13 (67) def North Bendigo 4.8 (32).
Since 2010: North Bendigo 21; Colbinabbin 8.
Adam Bourke (31) - Lockington-Bamawm United, Heathcote, Mount Pleasant, Colbinabbin.
Luke West (28) - Lockington-Bamawm United, Heathcote, Mount Pleasant, North Bendigo.
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