Dragons turn up heat on Eaglehawk’s turf

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by Nathan Dole

FINALS-TYPE heat will radiate across Eaglehawk’s Canterbury Park when the Borough takes on a red-hot Sandhurst in Saturday’s 16th round of the Bendigo Football Netball League season.

The Hawks have won all seven matches at home this season and tackles Sandhurst in a battle between second and third.

In their previous showdown, the Two Blues beat the Dragons by a point on the QEO.

The Dragons tackling and ferocity at the contest has played a big part in a run of five consecutive victories.

Midfield battles will be a highlight of this match.

The Hawks have the likes of coach Andy Collins, Zeb Broadbent, captain Blair Holmes, No.1 ruckman Tim Martin, and Zac East in form.

The return of the classy Codie Price to a half-back flank is a huge plus.

Eaglehawk has Brodie Collins, Jack Fallon, coach Josh Bowe, Ben McPhee and Riley McIvor, who are not only strong at the contest, but rarely waste a possession.

Although they will be without  gun goalkicker Matt Gretgrix and Ged Hommelhoff, the Hawks still have plenty of scoring power through the likes of Sean Williams, Shaun Knott and Riley Saunders.

The Dragons named Matt Thornton in attack, but his marking strength in defence was a key in last week’s win against Kyneton.

A vocal crowd will be keen to cheer on another Hawks victory.

Strathfieldsaye Storm takes on Golden Square at Tannery Lane.

The ladder leaders are also unbeaten at home.

Inclusions to Storm’s squad to tackle the Bulldogs include Tom Dowd, Josh Formosa and Trent Donnan.

Last season’s Michelsen Medallist as league best and fairest, and Ron Best Medal for goalkicking, Lachlan Sharp made a welcome return to Storm’s attack last round.

Limited to just  seven games because of injury, Sharp has kicked 58 goals and is second in the goalkicking race.

A powerful Storm line-up includes players the calibre of Kallen and Shannon Geary, coach Troy Coates, Kellan Smith, Ben Lester, and Bryce Curnow.

An injury-hit Golden Square faces another huge challenge.

The Dogs withstood a spirited challenge from Kangaroo Flat to win last week’s match by 14 points.

Pioneers team-mates Braydon Vaz and Liam Marciano have been selected by Golden Square.

The play of defenders Will Lee, Michael Dalrymple and Jon Coe will be a key to the Dogs chances.

Gisborne could give percentage a significant lift when it takes on Castlemaine at Gardiner Reserve.

The Bulldogs have had some great wins at home.

A team stacked with the skill of Michael Goodyear, Jack Reaper, Trent Crosbie, Josh Grabham, Jake Conolan and Jaidyn Owen will have sights on a big score.

Kangaroo Flat will aim to maintain the rage for longer when it takes on South Bendigo at Dower Park.

A Roos attack that has the marking power of Dylan Klemm and Cameron Rinaldi, and the skill of Corey Greer and Matt Filo at ground level will test the Bloods defence.

Both clubs have plenty of exciting talent.

The Roos have likes of Liam Ly, Lloyd Needs,  Jack Sampson and Brandon Etherington as the future of the club.

South Bendigo full-forward Kaiden Antonowicz leads the race for the Ron Best Medal on 62 goals and looms as a major threat to Flat’s defence.

The play of Isaiah Miller off a half-back flank, Daniel Johnstone and Daniel Nalder in the key defensive posts, and Joel Swatton, Liam Bartels and Brody Haddow in midfield will be crucial to the Bloods marking their seventh win of the season.

Young Bloods such as Will Keck and Tyler McLeod will be keen to have an impact on this match.

Stung by consecutive defeats, Kyneton will be determined to regain its early-season form when it plays Maryborough at Tigerland.

Harrison Huntley makes a welcome return for the Tigers.

Ethan Foreman has played well to kick 42 goals for the yellow and black as Rhys Magin, Max O’Sullivan and Jake Ward have also been major contributors in the forward 50m arc.

In round nine, Maryborough held a four-point lead at half-time of the clash with Kyneton at Princes Park.

The Tigers clicked up a couple of gears to win 99-54.

Led by the play of Lachlan Bond, Coby Perry, Brady Neill, Jacob Long and Luke Bucknall, the Ben Lavars-coached Magpies have been far more competitive than previous seasons and will be confident of another strong showing.

Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:

Strathfieldsaye 52 points, 212 per cent; Eaglehawk 48, 182; Sandhurst 40, 173; Golden Square 40, 165; Kyneton 38, 131; Gisborne 32, 118; South Bendigo 26, 96; Kangaroo Flat 16, 53; Maryborough 4, 44; Castlemaine 4, 25.