IT IS the fixture that has become a lock-in blockbuster in the Ballarat Football League – Sunbury versus Redan.
Two of the league heavyweights, the two Lions of the BFL, the old combatants with an entrenched rivalry that stretches back to the early 2000s.
Such is the rivalry, Sunbury and Redan have met 11 times in the past three seasons, including an astounding five finals matches.
But Saturday’s match is far different to previous encounters, especially for the home side, which boasts a far different list to last year.
In many ways, it will be very much a battle of the youth: which youngsters can step up and perform in what will be a defining match for both sides?
For the Eastern Lions, coach Rick Horwood admitted his side took the wrong approach into last week’s loss to East Point, but there was no danger of a repeat performance this time around.
“We went in with the wrong mental attitude and endeavour last week, but that won’t happen this week,” he said.
“It’s a blessing in disguise that we’re playing Redan because as a club, we always lift to play Redan. The rivalry is so strong I don’t even need to mention how important it is.”
Bendigo Gold duo Jack Sheahan and Daniel Toman come into the side – Bendigo has a bye this week – with Matthew Baird and Bryce Riseley.
For Toman, it will be the midfielder’s first match for Sunbury, having dominated at VFL level to be the sole Bendigo player named in the VFL team of the year last year, picked on the bench.
Dylan Tarczon has also been named, despite appearing to injure his elbow last week.
Redan is not without its own big names coming into the side.
Nathan Horbury returns from North Ballarat Roosters in hot form, while Mitch Phelps, Leigh Ryall and Dean Chester all return after playing in the reserves last week.
Callum Currie also comes back in, having been a late withdrawal last week, although Ryan Waight and Damien Horbury will both miss with calf injuries. Nathan Blomeley will also miss.
Redan coach Eammon Gill said he had tried not to build up the rivalry too much.
“We don’t build anything up really, regardless of who we are playing,” he said.
“Their young guys would be very much aware of the history between the two clubs.
“I think it will come down to a battle of the youth between the two.”
PREDICTION: Redan in a thriller