BUNINYONG v BUNGAREE
at Buninyong, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Bungaree 9.8 (62) d Buninyong 3.6 (24), round 15, 2015
THE minor premiership could be settled this Saturday when Buninyong and Bungaree lock horns in a top-of-the-table blockbuster.
Currently a game clear at the summit, the Bombers would likely lock away that position with victory here, while the Demons will move to the lead should they win given a hefty percentage.
Bungaree coach Heath Pyke isn’t overly fussed about the lure of top spot, but is more interested in beating another flag contender to help clinch a prized double chance.
“In terms of the overall goal, the main focus for us at the moment is trying to lock away a top four position come finals,” Pyke said.
Pyke said a range of players were to go undergo fitness tests on Thursday night, before the club named defender Jason Linke as the sole inclusion into the team. Linke missed last Saturday’s win over Beaufort with a back issue.
Like Pyke, Buninyong joint-coach Jarrod Morgan believe claiming top spot was somewhat irrelevant.
“Apart from a bit of bragging rights, it means absolutely nothing,” Morgan said.
The Bombers also weighed up a range of selection options on Thursday night before picking Jarrod Rodgers, Tyler Dittloff, Beau Guest and Alex Bomitali in the line-up. All four have been battling injury concerns.
BEAUFORT v BALLAN
at Beaufort, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Ballan 9.7 (61) d Beaufort 5.6 (36), round 15, 2015
BEAUFORT forward Jarrod Trigg has been selected for his first senior appearance of 2016.
Trigg’s campaign has been cruelled by a broken ankle he sustained during a pre-season practice match, but following two hit-outs in the reserves, he has been selected for Saturday’s clash with Ballan.
The key target returns to a Crows team that also gets back veteran defender Damian Day from hamstring trouble and fellow backman Lee Marshall, who has recovered from an incident against Gordon that left him with broken vertebrae.
Steven Lodge and Joel Chester are the others returning for Beaufort.
The Crows’ top four chances are gone after last weekend’s loss to Bungaree, according to coach Dale Power.
“We thought we had to win last week and then obviously win the remainder of the matches to nail it,” Power said.
In some ways, this game is much more important for the Blues, which are clinging to a spot in the top eight by the skin of their teeth.
Ballan was beaten by Dunnstown last weekend and now hold eighth place by just percentage over Daylesford.
The Blues’ selectors submitted three alterations to last weekend’s team on Thursday night, with Trent Laurie, Nicholas Thacker and Jacob Wilkinson all coming in.
WAUBRA v NEWLYN
at Waubra, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Waubra 12.8 (80) d Newlyn 8.6 (54), round 15, 2015
WHILE knowing how important last weekend’s win over reigning premiers Springbank was for his team’s top four chances, Waubra coach Grant Luscombe isn’t looking too far ahead.
It’s one of the oldest cliches in the book, but Luscombe says his side just has to take it week by week in the lead-up to the Central Highlands Football League finals series.
“When we don’t do that is when we don’t play well,” Luscombe said.
The Roos climbed into fourth position with a hard-fought victory over the Tigers and can maintain that spot with success in the remaining home and away games against Newlyn, Skipton and Gordon.
Luscombe said winger Paul Dodds was set to return from a hamstring injury this weekend against the Cats, while key defender Malcom Niblett is available for his first game since late May.
These are two important inclusions for a Roos outfit that takes on a Newlyn side that is fronting from a win over Skipton.
That result was the Cats’ fifth victory of the campaign and leaves them 13th on the ladder.
Ruckman Stuart Robinson is a big in for the visitors, which also welcome back James Wren, who gets the call-up from the reserves.
They replaced Nathan David and Cormac Prendergast in the selected line-up revealed on Thursday night.
DUNNSTOWN v CLUNES
at Dunnstown, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Clunes 14.9 (93) d Dunnstown 8.10 (58), round 15, 2015
Dunnstown (10th): The Towners' finals pursuit remains alive thanks to a hard-fought win over Ballan last weekend. Dunnstown is four points behind the eighth-placed Blues and will look to put the foot down and build some much-needed percentage against Clunes.
Clunes (15th): The Magpies are up and about after landing their second victory of the season against Smythesdale on Saturday. Michael Milne was one of the team's best in that win, but was missing from the selected side submitted on Thursday night.
HEPBURN v CRESWICK
at Hepburn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Hepburn 15.15 (105) d Creswick 5.4 (34), round 15, 2015
Hepburn (6th): The Burras' hopes of a double chance in finals look in serious strife after last weekend's loss to Gordon. The team is now sixth on the ladder and a game behind the fourth-placed Waubra. However, Hepburn should be able to break a run of three-straight defeats here.
Creswick (11th): Talented youngster Joel Berry returns from a week away through illness for the Wickers' clash with Hepburn. The winger was absent for the team's loss to Buninyong on the weekend.
SMYTHESDALE v LEARMONTH
at Linton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Learmonth 29.16 (190) d Smythesdale 1.5 (11), round 15, 2015
Smythesdale (16th): Bulldogs coach Stephen Frys is likely to miss the rest of 2016 with a hamstring injury picked up in the loss to Clunes last weekend. Fellow onballer Thomas Nankivell will also be sidelined this weekend after accepting a one-week ban for charging.
Learmonth (12th): Brodrick Campbell will have to wait another week to play his 100th game in Learmonth colours after being ruled out for Saturday's clash with a hamstring injury. This paved the way for Joshua Wells to be called up for his senior debut.
ROKEWOOD-CORINDHAP v DAYLESFORD
at Rokewood, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Daylesford 10.12 (72) d R-C 6.8 (44), round 15, 2015
Rokewood-Corindhap (14th): The Grasshoppers will rest another player because of concussion this Saturday. Defender Jonty Wall copped a knock in the loss to Learmonth last weekend and is sidelined for this clash, which will see backmen Jackson O'Neil and Tom Ware return.
Daylesford (9th): Bulldogs coach Marcus Goonan says this is a potential danger game for his side, which continue to close in on a finals berth. Daylesford landed its fourth-straight victory over Carngham-Linton on Saturday.
SKIPTON v GORDON
at Skipton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Gordon 32.19 (211) d Skipton 5.3 (33), round 15, 2015
Skipton (17th): Andrew Dickenson and Jarred Crabtree are selected to return to the Emus' senior team, which went down to Newlyn last weekend. The pair is named to replace Brett Conroy and Jayden Brokenshow in the side.
Gordon (5th): The Eagles landed their biggest success of 2016 last weekend, beating Hepburn to stay in touch with the top four. This Saturday, the team welcomes back the important Steve Patterson, who missed against the Burras while overseas.
CARNGHAM-LINTON v SPRINGBANK
at Snake Valley, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 23.17 (155) d C-L 5.3 (33), round 15, 2015
Carngham-Linton (18th): The Saints are still winless after last Saturday's loss to Daylesford and have named James Mason to play his first senior game with the club this weekend. He comes in alongside James Westbrook and Rory Nunn.
Springbank (3rd): After suffering defeat to Waubra at the weekend, the Tigers have ruled out important defenders Matt Tyler and Sam Cue for the trip to Snake Valley. Joint-coach Michael Searl said Tyler has a hamstring issue, while Cue is battling a quadriceps problem.
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