Springbank v Waubra
at Wallace, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 12.10 (82) d Waubra 5.4 (34), round 14, 2015
SPRINGBANK will welcome back a host of top players for its last serious test of the home and away campaign on Saturday.
The Tigers have named Tim Malone, Andrew Tyler, Billy Driscoll and Tyler George in the team to host Waubra.
That quartet was essentially managed and left out of the win against Newlyn last weekend, but returns alongside Robbie Lockett, who has been called up from the reserves to boost the firepower in attack.
Springbank, which has not lost since round two against Beaufort, is second on the ladder and has games against Carngham-Linton, Rokewood-Corindhap and Smythesdale to come before finals.
While the Tigers are wheeling out the stars, Waubra will be missing a handful of important players through injury.
Roos coach Grant Luscombe said his side would be without Steven Tung and Paul Dodds because of hamstring issues and Lachie Johns with a shoulder problem.
This leaves the visitors a little undermanned as they look to bounce back from last weekend’s loss to Daylesford.
That result saw the Roos slip from the top four on percentage.
Looking ahead, Waubra has matches against Newlyn and Skipton where it will start warm favourites before a battle with Gordon.
Gordon v Hepburn
at Gordon, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Gordon 14.17 (101) d Hepburn 10.13 (73), round 14, 2015
HEPBURN coach Jason Olver is somewhat frustrated by comments that suggest his team did a good job to push top team Buninyong last weekend.
The Burras led by a big margin during the final term only to be overrun by the Bombers, which landed a thrilling one-point victory.
“We are in the business of trying to win premierships and we shouldn't lose games like that,” Olver said.
This result actually saw the Burras climb to fourth on the ladder, but the pressure remains intense with this weekend’s game against fellow top four aspirant Gordon followed by clashes with Creswick, Bungaree and Ballan.
Olver said the feedback from his players following the loss to Buninyong had been great.
“I’m expecting the same effort of what we had last week plus more because it really is crunch time for us,” he said.
Hepburn is level on points with Gordon, which bounced back to winning ways last weekend against Newlyn.
Eagles coach Gary Learmonth confirmed influential onballer Steve Patterson would be absent for this clash while overseas, while ruckman Luke Gunnell and defender Gerard Clifford are among the likely inclusions from injury.
Gordon’s three losses this year have been to the sides above it on the ladder.
Ballan v Dunnstown
at Ballan, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Ballan 12.11 (83) d Dunnstown 5.11 (41), round 14, 2015
BALLAN’S finals destiny sits in the balance, but the team gets the chance to snuff out one of its key rivals this weekend.
The Blues maintained their four-point gap inside the top eight with a big victory over Smythesdale last Saturday and now eye a Dunnstown outfit that has slipped down the table in recent weeks.
A hefty loss to Bungaree has seen the Towners slide to 10th, two games adrift of the eighth-placed Blues with four rounds of the home and away campaign remaining.
Defeat here would surely spell an end to Dunnstown’s ambitions in 2016.
Ballan coach Justin McConnell said his team is fully aware of the importance of the round 14 fixture, with an in-form Daylesford also just a game behind the Blues.
“If we lose (then it’s) probably going to make it hard, but we know if we win we sort of keep the contenders at arm’s length for another week,” he said.
McConnell said four of his most consistent players this season would return on Saturday, with Zac Peoples, Chris Povey, Luke Souter and Dylan Galea all likely inclusions.
Dunnstown coach Justin Abrams returns to lead the team after being overseas for last weekend’s loss to the Demons.
Rhys Cahir filled Abrams’ void from the sidelines last round and has been named to return from injury for this clash.
Bungaree v Beaufort
at Bungaree, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Beaufort 10.10 (70) d Bungaree 5.9 (39), round 14, 2015
Bungaree (3rd): The Demons will be without coach Heath Pyke, who is set for a stint on the sidelines after injuring a hamstring in the win over Dunnstown last weekend. Defender Jason Linke is also in doubt with a persistent back issue, while utility Chris Cowan is out with a shoulder complaint.
Beaufort (7th): The Crows easily accounted for Creswick last weekend and still remain a sneaky chance of landing a top four berth. Sitting four points behind the fourth-placed Hepburn, the Beaufort boys can't afford any more slip-ups.
Clunes v Smythesdale
at Clunes, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Clunes 15.16 (106) d Smythesdale 4.5 (29), round 14, 2015
Clunes (17th): Like their rivals, the Magpies will have been eyeing off this encounter for some time. Clunes heads into this clash on the back of a heavy loss to Rokewood-Corindhap last weekend.
Smythesdale (15th): The Bulldogs are set to welcome back the important Tom Nankivell from a back injury for the showdown with fellow battlers Clunes. Nankivell is likely to return alongside Ash Carli, who coach Stephen Frys said missed last Saturday's loss to Ballan with a hamstring issue.
Creswick v Buninyong
at Creswick, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Buninyong 16.9 (105) d Creswick 0.3 (3), round 14, 2015
Creswick (11th): With a few key figures missing, such as Ryan Knowles, Mick Griffin and Sam Ayre, the Wickers are to give senior debuts to under-18 player Josh Mitchell and Tom Walmsley, who is up from the reserves. Ayre is expected to miss the season after suffering a hand injury.
Buninyong (1st): The boys in red and black answered another big test on the weekend, charging home to beat Hepburn by one point to remain at the top of the ladder. The Bombers now look assured of a double chance in finals.
Daylesford v Carngham-Linton
at Daylesford, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Daylesford 19.12 (126) d C-L 10.12 (72), round 14, 2015
Daylesford (9th): The Bulldogs are likely to be without star onballer/forward Seb Walsh for the remainder of the home and away season. Daylesford coach Marcus Goonan said Walsh had fractured his wrist and might be able to return if the team reaches the finals.
Carngham-Linton (18th): The Saints were victims of another heavy defeat against Learmonth last weekend and have made two changes to that side. Sam Cosgriff and Lann Hanson are in for James Westbrook and Nicholas King.
Learmonth v Rokewood-Corindhap
at Learmonth, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Learmonth 12.13 (85) d R-C 7.6 (48), round 14, 2015
Learmonth (12th): The Lakies have had key forward Matt Bond suspended for three matches after a league investigation into an on-field incident against Newlyn in round 10. Bond was handed the ban during a tribunal hearing during the week.
Rokewood-Corindhap (14th): The Grasshoppers broke a long run of outs to secure their fourth win of the year against Clunes last weekend. Zappa Jenkins and Jayden Hayes have been recalled for this clash.
Newlyn v Skipton
at Newlyn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Newlyn 10.5 (65) d Skipton 8.13 (61), round 14, 2015
Newlyn (13th): The Cats have been stung by their own request for a league investigation into an on-field scuffle in the game against Learmonth in late June. Along with the Lakies' Matt Bond copping a three-week ban, Newlyn ruckman Leigh Allen has been suspended for the next two matches.
Skipton (16th): The Emus were belted by Springbank after quarter time on Saturday and have named two changes to the side that will take on Newlyn. Charles Vagg and Angus Mason are the inclusions and replace Alistair Sudholz and Samual Dunn.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.