Carngham-Linton v Buninyong
at Snake Valley, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Buninyong 20.13 (133) d Carngham-Linton 2.2 (14), round 7, 2016
Carngham-Linton coach Matt Beaston says his team must enjoy the occasion on Saturday, but also remain focused on the task at hand.
The Saints will have former junior Nick O’Brien and ex-Essendon player Jason Winderlich in the senior side, while Bombers great Dustin Fletcher helps out Beaston from the sidelines.
O’Brien, Winderlich and Fletcher will then headline a special function after the match.
Beaston said it will be a big day for the club and that his message to Carngham-Linton players was to “embrace it and enjoy it, but stay switched on”.
The Saints will be looking to end a streak of defeats, which grew to three matches after last Saturday’s loss to Gordon.
On top of O’Brien and Winderlich, Carngham-Linton gets back key players Brodie Doolan, Zane Ross and Lachlan Isbister to bolster the team that went down heavily to the Eagles.
Buninyong has named run-with player Alex Bomitali to return to the side after a lay-off due to overseas travel, while the clever Jarrod Rodgers is back after being absent for last round’s win over Creswick.
Bombers coach Jarrod Morgan, who is still sidelined with a sternum injury, said he is excited to be part of Saturday’s match and expected the Saints to be a tricky opponent despite sitting low on the ladder.
Newlyn v Springbank
at Newlyn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 18.10 (118) d Newlyn 6.5 (41), round 12, 2016
Newlyn joint-coach Dan Wehrung admits finals is off the agenda for his side after a disappointing start to the season.
The Cats sit in 10th position on the ladder, but two games and percentage adrift of the eight-placed Buninyong with eight games to play in 2017.
Wehrung said losses to Carngham-Linton and Rokewood-Corindhap had been costly in what was a good early run of fixtures for his side.
“We had to be flying then get a bit of confidence, but it hasn’t worked out that way,” Wehrung said.
Things now start to get hard for the Cats, which take on reigning back-to-back premiers Springbank this weekend before games against Daylesford, Bungaree, Gordon and Buninyong.
Wehrung said Northern Territory recruit Dylan McLachlan was set to return to the team this Saturday after recovering from a broken ankle he sustained in the round one clash against Hepburn.
Springbank heads into this clash on the back of its first loss of the season, which came at the hands of the Burras last weekend.
Tigers coach Michael Searl said onballer Joel Maher has joined the injury list and won’t play this round because of a leg issue, but onballer Drew Tyler is expected to return after missing that loss to Hepburn.
Waubra v Hepburn
at Waubra, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Hepburn 17.9 (111) d Waubra 9.12 (66), round 7, 2016
Hepburn coach Jason Olver says there won’t be any surprise high-profile appearances this weekend as his team looks to continue a red-hot run of form.
The Burras produced a shock selection move on Saturday when former AFL players Nick Dal Santo and Jason Blake lined up for the senior side against Springbank.
Dal Santo had debuted the week before against Beaufort, but was not expected to take on the reigning back-to-back premiers alongside his ex-St Kilda teammate Blake, whose appearance was kept quiet.
The pair was part of a big win for the Burras, which are now one of five teams in positions two through to six separated by percentage.
Olver said the game against Waubra this Saturday was another big one for his team’s season, with a run of easier fixtures awaiting the side in coming weeks.
“It really does set our season up if we can get over the line here,” Olver said.
Waubra is one of the teams sitting level on points with the Burras after defeat at the hands of Beaufort on Saturday.
Roos coach Grant Luscombe said his boys were “humiliated” in a first-quarter blitz by the Crows and need to respond.
Key forward Tim Boyle was missing from the Roos’ line-up that was submitted to The Courier on Thursday night.
Clunes v Gordon
at Clunes, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Gordon 28.21 (189) d Clunes 5.7 (37), round 5, 2016
Clunes: The Magpies proved relatively competitive against Bungaree last round, but in the end slipped to a sixth-straight defeat.
And with games against Gordon and Buninyong to come, it looks as though the round 12 clash with Ballan is the next serious chance for a win.
Gordon: Eagles livewire Chris McGuigan is one of the key ins this weekend after missing last round's big triumph over Carngham-Linton.
Gordon coach Gary Learmonth said half back Brad Hallam, who sat out against the Saints with a groin injury, would be another important senior player back in the side this Saturday.
Creswick v Ballan
at Creswick, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Ballan 15.10 (100) d Creswick 9.6 (60), round 1, 2016
Creswick: Wickers coach Ryan Knowles has slotted into the senior side in recent weeks, but remains in doubt for Saturday's game against Ballan.
Knowles said he is battling with an Achilles issue that he picked up in last weekend's loss to Buninyong.
Ballan: Blues coach Jason McNamara and experienced senior player Ash Mullane were absent for last round's win over Skipton, but return for the battle with Creswick.
Interstate-based onballer Jarryd Graham can't play this weekend and is the key omission as the Ballan boys look to win a third-straight fixture.
Learmonth v Daylesford
at Learmonth, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Daylesford 13.17 (95) d Learmonth 14.2 (86), round 8, 2016
Learmonth: Forward Todd Curran has been named to return to a team that got home over Newlyn last weekend to climb back to second spot on the ladder.
Defender Nick Bone was a late withdrawal last weekend due to the birth of his first child and is another that comes back into the senior 22 for this clash.
Daylesford: The Bulldogs are planning for key backman Toby Hughes to make his first senior appearance of the year this weekend.
Hughes played reserves against Smythesdale last Saturday in his comeback from a broken hand, which he sustained before the opening round of the year.
Rokewood-Corindhap v Beaufort
at Rokewood, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Beaufort 26.10 (166) d Rokewood-Corindhap 7.3 (45), round 7, 2016
Rokewood-Corindhap: There is a stack of key players out for the Grasshoppers this weekend.
Coach Jarrod Thompson said Sam Cameron (quadriceps), Jason Hutchins (hamstring), Jake Dowell (unavailable), Lachlan Baker (eye socket/concussion) and Damon Delaney (soreness) would all come out of the team that lost to Dunnstown last Saturday.
Beaufort: Boom mid-season recruit Jarrod McCorkell has been named to play his second game in Crows colours.
While McCorkell is in, the team is set to be without important midfielder/forward Alex Petrie, who is on overseas travel.
Skipton v Dunnstown
at Skipton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Dunnstown 29.12 (186) d Skipton 8.3 (51), round 3, 2016
Skipton: The Emus have named talented youngster Lakota Stranks to play his first game since late May.
Stranks has been absent in recent weeks, but is set to appear in a side that will be without new signing and key backman Michael Young, who is unavailable for this fixture.
Dunnstown: After waiting until round nine for their first victory of the season, the Towners are staring at two wins in succession.
Dunnstown beat Rokewood-Corindhap by 13 points last Saturday and is warm favourites to account for the battling Emus this weekend.