Daylesford v Smythesdale
at Daylesford, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Daylesford 13.14 (92) d Smythesdale 1.2 (8), round 16, 2015
DAYLESFORD veteran Rob Rodgers ticks off another huge milestone in a glittering career this Saturday afternoon.
Rodgers, a three-time premiership player in the Central Highlands Football League, will run out for his 250th senior game for the Bulldogs against Smythesdale.
The 36-year-old captained the Bulldogs to their first CHFL flag in 2007 and won his one and only club senior best and fairest in 2012.
He is a past player with Hepburn and made more than 50 senior appearances for the Burras.
Easily the oldest player in the regular Daylesford team at present, the club legend reaches the milestone at a crucial time for the side, which has finally broken back into the top eight.
Daylesford is eighth and four points clear of chasers Ballan and Dunnstown with two weeks to go in the home and away campaign.
Smythesdale heads into this clash on the back of a loss to Learmonth, which leaves the team 16th on the ladder.
Coach Stephen Frys said one of his side’s top onballers Tom Nankivell would be absent for the remainder of the season due to work commitments.
Nankivell was out suspended for the clash with the Lakies and will miss the games against Daylesford and Springbank before Smythesdale’s year comes to a close.
Bungaree v Hepburn
at Bungaree, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Bungaree 12.10 (82) d Hepburn 11.12 (78), semi final, 2015
BUNGAREE coach Heath Pyke believes the outside noise isn’t quite reflecting where his team currently sits in the grand scheme of things.
The Demons are widely regarded in the race for the 2016 Central Highlands Football League premiership, but have failed in a number of big tests so far this season.
Bungaree was beaten by Buninyong on Saturday and Springbank and Waubra earlier in the campaign.
“I honestly believe probably the external perception of how well we are travelling or where we actually are in the scheme of things is probably elevated above where we are at in reality,” he said.
“From a coaching standpoint, definitely we have fallen short in a couple of those (big) contests, which definitely makes you go back to the drawing board and assess where you’re at.”
Pyke and his men are just percentage inside the top four following last weekend’s eight-point defeat at the hands of the ladder-leading Bombers.
In key selection news, important midfielder Chase Morgan is set to miss this encounter with a hamstring injury.
Hepburn snapped its losing sequence with a comfortable win over Creswick on Saturday.
However, that result still leaves the Burras sixth on the table, a game adrift of the four.
Learmonth v Dunnstown
at Learmonth, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Learmonth 8.12 (60) d Dunnstown 8.8 (56), round 16, 2015
DUNNSTOWN players could be forgiven for having one eye on the round 17 encounter with Daylesford.
After all, that fixture shapes as the one that will ultimately determine their finals destiny.
But coach Justin Abrams is trying his best to ensure Saturday’s trip to Learmonth remains firmly in focus.
Dunnstown is currently 10th on the ladder, but just a game and a small amount of percentage behind eighth-placed Daylesford, which it meets in the last round.
While victory against the Lakies is clearly the initial aim, Abrams said building some percentage was a “close second”.
Abrams said he would ideally like to be in a position at half time where the team could look to pour on some scoreboard pressure against Learmonth.
“Learmonth are a good side, they’ve been unlucky this year to lose five games by less than a kick and it's not going to be easy,” Abrams said.
The Towners will be without winger/half forward Jordan Crone for the rest of the campaign after he suffered a badly broken arm in last weekend’s win over Clunes.
Learmonth forward Brodrick Campbell will play his 100th game for the club on Saturday.
Campbell, who missed last weekend’s win over Smythesdale with a hamstring issue, joined the Lakies from Lake Wendouree for the 2011 season.
Ballan v Buninyong
at Ballan, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Ballan 16.7 (103) d Buninyong 4.3 (27), semi final, 2015
Ballan (9th): The Blues have relinquished their grip on eighth spot and now face an unlikely battle to get it back before the home and away campaign is over. Coming back to help this weekend is important duo Zac Peoples and Daniel Neilsen.
Buninyong (1st): The Bombers have moved a step closer to clinching their first minor premiership since 2013, with Saturday's win over Bungaree keeping them a game clear at the top. In selection news, key pair Glen Phelps and Liam Rigby have been left out of the side.
Clunes v Beaufort
at Clunes, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Beaufort 24.11 (155) d Clunes 3.3 (21), round 16, 2015
Clunes (15th): It's a tough end to the campaign for the Magpies, which have difficult clashes against Beaufort and Buninyong to wrap up the year. Dylan Davies, Ashley Anderson and Liam Newton are all named to come into the side that lost to Dunnstown last round.
Beaufort: The Crows are getting set for an elimination final and will want to use the upcoming matches against Clunes and Learmonth to get their game up and going for a tilt at the flag come finals.
Gordon v Creswick
at Gordon, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Gordon 9.12 (66) d Creswick 7.7 (49), round 16, 2015
Gordon (5th): The Eagles have named important defender Gerard Clifford to return to the team after shaking off a hip issue that has hampered him in recent weeks. While Clifford is in, onballer/forward Ben Quinlan is unavailable for a match where Gordon is out to keep its top four hopes alive.
Creswick (12th): Youngster Jayson Porter has been called up from the under-18s to play his first senior game for the club. Porter joined the Wickers from Smythesdale ahead of this season and comes into a team that was well beaten by Hepburn on the weekend.
Newlyn v Carngham-Linton
at Newlyn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Newlyn 23.9 (147) d C-L 7.10 (52), round 16, 2015
Newlyn (13th): The Cats welcome back ruckman Leigh Allen, who has sat out the past two games through suspension. Allen was slapped with a two-game ban after a league investigation resulted in he and Learmonth's Matt Bond (three games) both being rubbed out for an on-field altercation.
Carngham-Linton (18th): The Saints have submitted two changes to the team that was thumped by Springbank last weekend. Sam Cosgriff and Tim Clarke are named to return for the trip to Newlyn this Saturday.
Skipton v Waubra
at Skipton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Waubra 23.13 (151) d Skipton 7.7 (49), round 16, 2015
Skipton (17th): Brett Conroy and Alistair Sudholz return for the Emus, which have named two changes to the outfit that was well handled by Gordon on Saturday. The pair is set to replace Rick Henricksen and Darcy Hall.
Waubra (4th): Important goal-kicker Austin Murphy returns from a knee issue for the clash with Skipton on Saturday, while coach Grant Luscombe has declared fellow forward Nathan Patrikeos out with illness and midfielder Ash Ballinger sidelined with "general soreness".
Springbank v Rokewood-Corindhap
at Wallace, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 18.11 (119) d R-C 4.2 (26), round 16, 2015
Springbank (2nd): Inside midfielder Joel Maher is back from an overseas trip and will line-up for the Tigers at Rokewood on Saturday. Springbank bounced back from its loss to Waubra with a thumping win over Carngham-Linton last weekend.
Rokewood-Corindhap (14th): With his future now decided, outgoing coach Mick Hynes has two games left to finish his tenure at the Grasshoppers on a high. With the reigning premiers this weekend, perhaps the round 17 encounter against Newlyn is a better chance of success.
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