Buninyong v Gordon
at Buninyong, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Buninyong 14.10 (94) d Gordon 11.18 (84), qualifying final, 2016
For Buninyong and Gordon, the stakes are extremely high.
The two teams will lock horns this Saturday with the knowledge victory carries with it a double chance in the Central Highlands Football League finals series.
As it stands, the sides are locked together on points, with the Bombers narrowly inside the top four on percentage.
But the boys in red and black will be ousted from that spot should they drop the weekend’s home game to the in-form Eagles, which are coming off a stirring win over rivals Springbank.
The circumstances surrounding this clash are similar to the one in round 17 of the 2014 season, which Gordon won against Buninyong to climb into the top four.
Bombers coach Jarrod Morgan missed last weekend’s hard-fought victory over Bungaree with a corked thigh, but has been named to play in this game. He is the key inclusion for the hosts, alongside forward Daniel Pelchen.
For Gordon, just one change to the side that beat the Tigers has been named. Defender Cobie Davis has been replaced by fellow backman Tyson Burns, who was unavailable for the clash with Springbank. Burns was Gordon’s best in the round 15 win over Bungaree.
Eagles coach Gary Learmonth told The Courier Davis would miss this weekend because of an arm injury.
Dunnstown v Daylesford
at Dunnstown, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Daylesford 20.13 (133) d Dunnstown 6.9 (45), round 17, 2016
Dunnstown will need to beat Daylesford by about 80 points this Saturday to pull off a miraculous leap into the Central Highlands Football League finals series.
Assuming Learmonth (ninth) is unable to produce a huge boilover to defeat Hepburn, the Towners (10th) would climb over the Bulldogs (eighth) on percentage with a big victory on home soil.
Dunnstown coach Justin Abrams admits a win of that magnitude, particularly given the conditions, is unlikely, but will be doing all he can to produce some round 17 heroics.
He said winning the match is the first priority and if the team misses finals, finishing the year with more wins than losses (including a bye) was still a great result.
Dunnstown dropped its first eight games in 2017, but has gone unbeaten in its last seven to be just four points and percentage behind the Bulldogs.
Abrams said defender/onballer Daniel Harbour was unavailable this weekend and would be the key omission from the team that defeated Newlyn last weekend.
Daylesford climbed back into eighth position with last Saturday’s win against Ballan and sits in the box seat to clinch the last of the finals positions.
Forward Max Risstrom is unavailable for this game, paving the way for Joel Cummings to get a call-up.
Hepburn v Learmonth
at Hepburn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Hepburn 9.20 (74) d Learmonth 7.6 (48), round 2, 2016
Nick Dal Santo has been selected for Hepburn’s round 17 clash with Learmonth.
The former St Kilda and North Melbourne player is set to feature in his third Central Highlands Football League match this season, which will qualify him for the upcoming finals series.
Dal Santo hasn’t played since the round nine win over Springbank, but has long been pencilled in for this clash.
There is also a question mark surrounding Burras star Andy McKay, who has missed the team’s past two fixtures with what coach Jason Olver has described as a hamstring injury.
Olver said that he was unsure if he would risk McKay, but did confirm 16-year-old goal-kicker Izaac Grant would make his senior debut for the club.
Hepburn is second on the ladder following last weekend’s bye and can’t be ousted from a place inside the top four.
Learmonth has much more to play for, with an upset win over the Burras – on a day when the club celebrates its 150th birthday – giving them a chance to climb back to eighth spot on the ladder.
If successful, the Lakies would also need Dunnstown to beat Daylesford, but not by enough to leapfrog them on percentage.
Star onballer Brenton Powell will again be missing, with news he is set to undergo surgery on an injured leg.
Ballan v Bungaree
at Ballan, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Bungaree 8.15 (63) d Ballan 4.4 (28), round 2, 2016
Ballan: The Blues are one of many teams playing for pride this weekend and would love to claim their first win over a top eight side in 2017.
Forward Adam Kurzman is the key inclusion for this clash after being unavailable for last weekend's loss to Daylesford.
Bungaree: Onballer Chase Morgan has recovered from a foot injury and returns to a Bungaree side that has little to play for this weekend.
With defeats in their past three outings, there's no room to move for the Demons, which will finish seventh regardless of what happens against the Blues.
Beaufort v Newlyn
at Beaufort, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Beaufort 15.13 (103) d Newlyn 7.10 (52), round 3, 2016
Beaufort: The Crows can secure the minor premiership this weekend with victory over Newlyn.
And to help their cause, the home side gets back defender Brendan Howard from a hamstring injury and the versatile Mitch Jenkins, who has had a finger problem.
Newlyn: A season that promised plenty will end on Saturday for a Cats side that has disappointed in 2017.
The club recruited strongly in the off-season, but has only managed three wins so far and looks highly unlikely to add to that total against the in-form Crows.
Rokewood-Corindhap v Clunes
at Rokewood, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Rokewood-Corindhap 21.10 (136) d Clunes 7.7 (49), round 13, 2016
Rokewood-Corindhap: The Grasshoppers probably haven't quite lived up to what they promised during the pre-season, but here's a chance to string together back-to-back wins to end the year.
If successful against the Magpies, coach Jarrod Thompson and his boys will equal the tally of four wins Rokewood-Corindhap achieved in 2016.
Clunes: The Magpies have endured a tough run home and will look to end a sequence of four-straight defeats with some success this weekend.
If Clunes can win, the team will finish the year on four victories, which is two more than it registered throughout 2016.
Skipton v Carngham-Linton
at Skipton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Skipton 15.5 (95) d Carngham-Linton 9.11 (65), round 17, 2016
Skipton: Here's a great chance for the Emus to end a horror year on a positive note.
Coach Greg Middleton has been unable to land a victory in his first year at the helm, but will field one of his stronger teams of the campaign in a bid to break the drought against a lowly Carngham-Linton outfit.
Carngham-Linton: Saints coach Matt Beaston said the positives have outweighed the negatives this season - one that has seen the senior side improve significantly on a winless 2016 campaign.
Victory against the bottom side on Saturday will mean three wins for 2017 and could see Carngham-Linton jump up from 16th position on the ladder.
Springbank v Creswick
at Wallace, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 23.14 (152) d Creswick 6.6 (42), round 5, 2016
Springbank: The speedy Tyler George returns to an undermanned Tigers outfit this Saturday, but the news is bad for Tom Eltringham, who looks set to miss the remainder of the 2017 season with a shoulder injury he sustained in last weekend's loss to Gordon.
While missing a shot at another premiership, the injury will also cost him a crack at the league goal-kicking award. He sits just three goals behind Waubra's Tim Boyle.
Creswick: With the reserves team getting set for finals, Dave Wright and Josh Mitchell will be dropped back to the seconds this weekend to ensure they remain qualified for the playoffs.
The big inclusion to the senior side for the round 17 game is key position player Liam Hepworth, who has missed the last two wins through injury.