SOUTH Bendigo coach Brady Childs makes a highly-anticipated return for the Bloods in this Saturday’s 11th round of the Bendigo Football Netball League season.
The Bloods face Sandhurst in the battle of the QEO co-tenants.
For Childs it will be his first match since he ruptured an ACL for a second time in last year’s win against Gisborne.
There’s plenty at stake for South Bendigo and Sandhurst in this battle.
The Dragons have a 5-5 record and are a win behind the fifth-placed Gisborne.
Finals hopes for the Bloods look gone, but they can have a big say who does make it.
After a draw in the opening round at Kyneton, the Bloods have had just three wins since.
Renowned for his aggressive approach to every contest, Childs was named at full-forward for such a crucial clash where the in-form Kaiden Antonowicz is in a pocket.
South Bendigo’s defensive play and work at stoppages will be vital against a Dragons line-up that includes Andy Collins, Zeb Broadbent, Nick Stagg, and ruckman Tim Martin.
The Bloods regain key defender Daniel Nalder and recalled Cohen Balnaves.
Sandhurst made five changes to the team beaten at Golden Square last round.
The ladder-leading Strathfieldsaye heads south to tackle Gisborne at Gardiner Reserve.
The Clinton Young-coached Gisborne is in top form and will be confident of a strong performance against Storm.
Gisborne’s work in and around the packs and not relying on a couple of goalkickers have been key factors in its winning run.
Kyneton is at home for its clash with Kangaroo Flat at Tigerland.
The Tigers only loss at home this year was to Strathfieldsaye.
An attack that includes the marking power of Jake Ward, and the skill of Ethan Foreman, Rhys Magin and Max O’Sullivan will be tough for Flat’s defence to hold.
Kangaroo Flat will again look for big games from number one ruckman Nick Lang, Liam Collins, Corey Greer and Ross Turner in midfield, and Dane Spear in defence.
After breaking its season duck last week, Maryborough is at home to Golden Square on the Princes Park turf.
The Bulldogs will start favourite, but cannot afford to relax against a team that led Kyneton at half-time in round seven.
Jayden Burke starred in Square’s attack last round and will be a major threat to the Magpies.
The league’s other Magpies, Castlemaine take on Eaglehawk at Canterbury Park.
Stung by a 34-point loss at Strathfieldsaye last round, the Two Blues will be fired up on a ground where they are yet to be beaten this season.
SANDHURST v South Bendigo
Gisborne v STRATHFIELDSAYE
KYNETON v Kangaroo Flat
Maryborough v GOLDEN SQUARE
EAGLEHAWK v Castlemaine.