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Published on:
19 April 2024
Written By Nathan Dole
Written By Nathan Dole

Dragons put heat on Gisborne at QEO

THE Sandhurst Dragons will put the heat on Gisborne in Saturday’s second round of senior footy in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL season.

After a first-round bye, Gisborne makes it way to Queen Elizabeth Oval to feature in the match of the day from 2.20pm.

Jointly coached by Ash Connick, non-playing, and Bryce Curnow, playing, Sandhurst made a brilliant start to the ’24 campaign as it scored 25 goals in the first-round win at Kangaroo Flat’s Dower Park.

The Dragons can expect the pressure to be higher and last a lot longer this time against the Rob Waters-coached Gisborne.

There will be plenty of exciting match-ups in this contest.

Massive test for Gisborne defenders Jack Reaper, Zach Vescovi and Jarrad Lynch in trying to nullify the marking power of Dragons’ key targets Fergus Greene, Lachlan Wright and Cobi Maxted.

A highlight will be in the centre as Dragons’ captain Lachlan Tardrew takes on Brad Bernacki.

Both bring VFL experience from their time at Collingwood and Essendon respectively to the middle of the QEO.

For Gisborne the return of premiership-winning captain Pat McKenna from a broken ankle and comeback by Jack Scanlon at centre half-forward is a massive plus.

A Bulldogs’ forward line that includes the strength and marking power of Zac Denany and Harry Luxmoore will test Sandhurst.

Gisborne could hold a slight edge in the on-ball duels through Braidon Blake, Flynn Lakey and Jackson Cardillo against Connor Sexton, James Coghlan and Noah Walsh.

There will be big games played at Kennington, Golden Square and Maryborough.

On the rebound from defeat, South Bendigo takes on a new-look Castlemaine at Harry Trott Oval in Neale Street, Kennington.

The Steven Stroobants and Isaiah Miller-coached Bloods put in a great effort at Strathfieldsaye before being overrun in the final quarter on Storm’s turf at Triple M Park.

Work at centre clearances and stoppages will be vital for the Bloods to not only quick entry to Castlemaine key forwards Michael Hartley and Zach Greeves.

In the stand-alone match on Good Friday it was Hartley who kicked five goals in his coaching debut and had great support from Greeves and Bailey Henderson.

Castlemaine overcame a spirited first-half showing from Maryborough to win by 69 points at Camp Reserve.

Big test for Bloods’ defenders Andrew van Heumen, Zac Hare and Isaiah Miller this round.

At the other end of the ground, South Bendigo has the brilliance of Stroobants and Brock Harvey who are quick on the lead and just as dangerous at ground level.

A high of the Bloods match at Strathfieldsaye was the play of William Marks at centre half-forward.

The son of Deon Marks, a dual premiership winner with the Bloods, William played at Wedderburn last season.

On-ball duels will be crucial where South Bendigo has Riley Walsh, Anthony Zimmerman, Brody Haddow and Zac Sims to take on Ben Moran, Kalan Huntly and Callum McConachy.

A lengthy interchange list for the Magpies included the classy Matt Filo.

The Bloods’ bench includes exciting youngsters Zavier Holmes and Zaydyn Lockwood.

Golden Square will unfurl the ’23 premiership flag before it tackles Strathfieldsaye at the Wade Street ground.

There is a fierce rivalry between these two clubs.

A new-look Bulldogs team worked hard to finish within 19 points at Eaglehawk last Saturday.

The youngsters in the Brad Eaton-coached Golden Square team will have gained plenty of confidence from the hit-out.

Now the challenge is up against Storm which was third last season.

Among the highs of the Dogs clash in the Borough was the play of Jordan Rosengren in the centre.

Back at the kennel after a stint at Wedderburn, Rosengren won plenty of the footy and also applied a lot of pressure to the opposition.

Key players for the blue and gold include co-captain Jayden Burke, Jon Coe, Hugh Freckleton, Luke Holt, ruckman Tanner Rayner, Harry Burke and Tom Strauch.

Bulldogs’ fans will also keenly follow the play of talented youngsters such as Jack Threlfall, Macey Eaton, Zac Tickell and Harrison Kelly.

It’s a new look for Storm which is now being coached by Luke Freeman.

Abe Sheahan led Storm’s attack against the Bloods.

Main targets in the forward 50m arc are James Schischka and Malik Gordon.

A talented Storm line-up includes Lachlan Ratcliffe at centre half-back, Shannon Geary, Daniel Clohesy in the centre, Lachlan Gill and Patrick Blandford.

Maryborough will be focused on a great opportunity to break its winless streak when it takes on Kangaroo Flat at Maryborough’s Princes Park.

There was plenty to like about the way the Coby Perry and Matt Johnston-coached Maryborough played at Castlemaine on Good Friday.

Ruck-rover Bailey Edwards was in outstanding form in the season opener and the Pies’ club champion of ’22 will play a significant role in this match.

Other players to watch for  Maryborough include Kaian Constable, ruckman Ty Stewart, centreman Joel Swatton, Kya Lanfranchi, Aidan Medlyn, Tom Myers and Robert Castiglia.

A newcomer is Cody Nyhuis from Nightcliff in the Northern Territory and previously Curtin University Wesley in Perth.

Kangaroo Flat will have learnt a lot from the round one hit-out against Sandhurst.

The Michael Ellings-coached Kangaroos will look to Toby Roberts, Campbell Smith, Ben Savy and Lachlan Dalziel to control a lot of the centre breaks.

In attack the Roos have Harry Whitty, Jake Hywood and Daniel Stagg.

Big games to be played by Zach Rouse, Toby Balcke and Kyle Symons in defence.

Eaglehawk has the bye.


Bendigo FNL senior footy ladder:

Sandhurst 589 per cent, 4 points; Castlemaine 211, 4; Strathfieldsaye 141, 4; Eaglehawk 132, 4; Golden Square 75, 0; South Bendigo 70, 0; Maryborough 47, 0; Kangaroo Flat 16, 0; Gisborne 0, 0.


Leaders in the goalkicking race for the Ron Best Medal:

6 Fergus Greene, Sandhurst.

5 Michael Hartley, Castlemaine.

5 Bailey Henderson, Castlemaine.

4 Zach Greeves, Castlemaine.

4 Lachlan Tardrew, Sandhurst.

3 Jayden Burke, Golden Square.

3 Kaian Constable, Maryborough.

3 Sam O’Shannessy, Eaglehawk.

3 Abe Sheahan, Strathfieldsaye.

3 Steven Stroobants, South Bendigo.

3 Joel Wharton, Sandhurst.

3 Lachlan Wright, Sandhurst.