Springbank v Gordon
at Wallace, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 10.8 (68) d Gordon 4.11 (35), grand final, 2015
CENTRAL Highlands Football League senior representative Justin Simpson has been selected to make his return for Springbank in its grand final rematch with Gordon on Saturday.
Simpson has been missing since the win over Bungaree in mid-May, with a knee injury keeping him sidelined until this weekend’s blockbuster.
Tigers joint-coach Michael Searl said Simpson’s comeback was great for his side.
“He’s our go-to defender,” Searl said.
“The majority of the time he gets the job done. He’s going to be such a handy inclusion for us to have coming into this week.”
Springbank won last year’s grand final against Gordon and heads into this clash on the back on eight-straight victories.
Searl admits his team has been in a good patch of form since the Beaufort defeat in round two and believed the group was still not playing its best football.
With the inclusion of Simpson headlining the Tigers’ three changes from the line-up that beat Daylesford last weekend, the Eagles have included onballer Jeremy Krojs and backman Mitchell Lawrence at the expense of Josh Lee and James Poppe.
Gordon has not lost since the season-opener against Bungaree, with the winning streak including a two-point triumph over Beaufort in round 10.
Dunnstown v Hepburn
at Dunnstown, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Hepburn 24.16 (160) d Dunnstown 8.9 (57), round 11, 2015
DUNNSTOWN coach Justin Abrams believes he will send out the most under-strength team of his one-and-a-half-year tenure at the club on Saturday.
Abrams, who was left disappointed by last weekend’s thrashing at the hands of Buninyong, said there was a host of key players absent for the clash against Hepburn through injury and unavailability.
Dunnstown had five omissions from the side that kicked just one goal – deep in the final term – against the Bombers at selection on Thursday night, with Angus Thompson, Rhys Cahir, Jarrod McArdle, Tim O'Shea and Tyson Ednie all set to miss.
The Towners remain a game clear inside the eight, with ninth-placed Ballan expected to keep the pressure on with victory against the struggling Carngham-Linton on Saturday.
“(To play finals) is certainly our aim, (but) we have just got to hopefully galvanise a little bit,” Abrams said.
“One bad game doesn’t make a bad season and even though we’ll be under-strength on the weekend, we just really need to be competitive.”
Hepburn, chasing a seventh-straight win, will welcome back gun forward Lee Cox this weekend after he missed the past couple of matches following minor surgery, as well as important pair Ricky Ferraro and Lachlan Calder.
Beaufort v Buninyong
at Beaufort, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Buninyong 9.9 (63) d Beaufort 9.4 (58), round 11, 2015
BUNINYONG joint-coach Jarrod Morgan says he isn’t reading anything into Beaufort’s recent form ahead of the teams’ showdown on Saturday afternoon.
The Crows will host the Bombers looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats at the hands of Dunnstown and Gordon which have left their top four hopes in tatters.
Beaufort, which lost to the Eagles by just two points last weekend, have tumbled from top spot at the end of round eight to seventh heading into this encounter.
Morgan said he still had the same opinion about the Crows as he did at the start of the campaign, that is that they are one of the main contenders for the premiership.
“I still think they are going to be bloody hard to beat out at Beaufort this weekend,” he said.
Morgan celebrated his 200th senior game for Buninyong with a big win over the Towners last weekend, which left the side on top of the Central Highlands Football League ladder.
At selection on Thursday night, the Bombers made just the one change, with Aaron Hart coming in for Cameron Baker. Meanwhile, the Crows signaled four alterations to their side, with the important Jack Duke, Scott Howard and Jayden Orr all returning and Mark Williams picked for his first senior game of the campaign.
Newlyn v Daylesford
at Newlyn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Newlyn 11.11 (77) d Daylesford 10.9 (69), round 11, 2015
Newlyn (12th): Will Young is back for the Cats after sitting out last weekend's win over Learmonth with a hamstring issue. He is joined in the team by defender Wes Carter, who was unavailable against the Lakies.
Daylesford (11th): The Bulldogs are set to get back premiership defender Toby Hughes from a shoulder injury, but coach Marcus Goonan has declared star Michael Cummings will be rested. Forward Seb Walsh was set to undergo a fitness test on a hamstring problem on Thursday night.
Rokewood-Corindhap v Bungaree
at Rokewood, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Bungaree 15.11 (101) d R-C 1.4 (10), round 11, 2015
R-C (13th): Key tall Jonathan Willey returns to the Grasshoppers team for his first senior game of the year on Saturday. Willey is set to be joined in the side by injury-troubled onballer Jonathan Noy.
Bungaree: (5th): After being unavailable for the big win over Carngham-Linton last week, prolific forward Christian Elliott returns for the Demons. He is an inclusion into a side that will be missing half-back Jason Linke, who coach Heath Pyke says has a back injury.
Skipton v Learmonth
at Skipton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Learmonth 15.13 (103) d Skipton 5.9 (39), round 11, 2015
Skipton (16th): Emus joint-coach John Northey takes on a Learmonth side he used to lead this weekend. Northey and the Skipton boys head into the game on the back of their first win of the season against Clunes on Saturday.
Learmonth (14th): Ruckman Ryan Barnes and defender Edward Sinnott are unavailable for this clash, while winger Tait Niddrie returns to the team that lost a thriller against Newlyn last round.
Smythesdale v Creswick
at Smythesdale, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Creswick 25.24 (174) d Smythesdale 2.2 (14), round 11, 2015
Smythesdale (15th): The Bulldogs return to home soil this weekend after being forced to play the round nine clash against Buninyong at Linton because of vandalism to its oval. Bulldogs coach Stephen Frys said his side is still undermanned, but expects it to get back defender Brad Dunbar from a back injury.
Creswick (10th): Lachlan Allison's season appears over after a serious knee injury in last weekend's win. But in a positive, young under-18 player Patrick Taranto has been called up to make his senior debut.
Carngham-Linton v Ballan
at Snake Valley, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Ballan 27.15 (177) d C-L 3.7 (25), round 11, 2015
C-L (18th): The Saints remain one of just two winless teams in the competition and are fronting from a thrashing at the hands of Bungaree. While this fixture looks tough, the following weekend's game against battlers Clunes shapes as a major chance to open the account for 2016.
Ballan (9th): Star trio Justin McConnell, Jason McNamara and Zac Peoples are set to miss the clash against the Saints. McConnell said he had a hamstring injury, while revealing McNamara and Peoples are battling respective calf and knee issues.
Waubra v Clunes
at Waubra, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Waubra 11.11 (77) d Clunes 7.14 (56), round 11, 2015
Waubra (6th): Veteran Stuart Oliver appears to have overcome a foot injury and has been selected to take his place in the team for the first time since round seven. He comes into a side that will be without unavailable pair Nick Lawrence and Josh King.
Clunes (17th): The Magpies let slip a golden opportunity to clinch their first success of the season against Skipton last weekend and there doesn't appear to be many more chances in 2016. However, a game against fellow winless outfit Carngham-Linton will be a big focus next round.
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