Learmonth v Clunes
at Learmonth, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Learmonth 13.22 (100) d Clunes 8.10 (58), round 6, 2017
Learmonth is set to greet the interleague break as part of a group of teams split only by percentage at the top of the table.
While the Lakies had a win-loss record of 5-1 after round six last year, there was two teams – Springbank and Beaufort – a game clear of them at the summit.
This Saturday’s clash looks a formality for Learmonth, which comes up against a Clunes side that has had a winless start to the campaign.
The Lakies have made just the one change to the line-up that beat Carngham-Linton in round five, with ruckman Vincent White given time to rest an ankle issue.
Youngster Hamish McKee has received the call-up in what will be Shane Rogan’s 100th appearance for the club.
Clunes should be fresh after last weekend’s bye, which followed a solid effort against Springbank, where it lost by only 45 points.
Coach Johno Leoncini was pleased with parts of that performance in what was probably the side’s best display of the season so far.
The Magpies’ team submitted to The Courier on Thursday night was the same as the one that took on the Tigers.
Learmonth and Clunes will battle for the White Ribbon Shield this Saturday across all grades of football and netball.
The shield is in honour of Sharon Siermans, who was murdered in Ballarat in 2013.
Newlyn v Carngham-Linton
at Newlyn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Carngham-Linton 10.10 (70) d Newlyn 10.7 (67), round 6, 2017
Newlyn joint-coach Chris Dwyer was a little coy when asked of his goals at the start of the campaign, but is now happy to put finals football on the table.
Dwyer admits he is now aiming for the play-off series after the Cats claimed four wins from the opening five rounds to be in a share of top spot on the Central Highlands Football League ladder.
Newlyn is locked on 16 points with Beaufort, Learmonth, Buninyong, Waubra and Springbank moving towards the game against Carngham-Linton this weekend.
“We still haven’t played four quarters for the year I don’t reckon, so that’s a good sign,” Dwyer said.
“We’ve got a bit of scope still there.”
The Cats easily defeated Creswick last weekend and are still missing a handful of key players from their first-choice side, including North Ballarat City recruit Lou Campana, who has been struck down with glandular fever and hasn’t played for his new club in 2018.
Gun onballer Steve Clifton is unavailable and one of three outs from the side that beat the Wickers.
Carngham-Linton coach Matt Beaston rated last round’s loss to Learmonth as his team’s best effort of the year, better than the one that saw the Saints beat Clunes.
For this clash, important players Justin O’Brien and Jake Pring are back.
Daylesford v Creswick
at Daylesford, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Creswick 13.8 (86) d Daylesford 8.9 (57), round 6, 2017
Daylesford is staring down the barrel of a long season without the prospect of finals, but gets a good chance to break the 2018 duck this weekend.
New coach Zac Tisdale is yet to taste success in his first year in the top job, but is hoping once it comes his side will start to click.
“(Except Beaufort) we’ve been in a position to win every single game, but depth and injuries come back to hurt you,” Tisdale said.
“Looking from outside it looks pretty bad, but internally we know how good our footy is.”
At this time last year, Daylesford had won three matches, including one against arch rivals Hepburn.
Tisdale said it was unlikely star onballer Joel Cowan would play this weekend as he battles an ankle injury that kept him out of last Saturday’s loss to Skipton and revealed forward Dylan Muscat (unavailable) would also miss the home encounter against Creswick.
Former Daylesford junior Tom Gurkin is back at the club and is expected to come under consideration for senior selection.
Meanwhile, the Wickers have made three changes as they try to avoid a third-straight defeat.
Among the key inclusions are defenders Ryan Pompe and Luke Walker, who both missed last Saturday’s heavy loss at the hands of rivals Newlyn.
That result has left Creswick eighth on the ladder.
Ballan v Hepburn
at Ballan, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Hepburn 21.14 (140) d Ballan 4.7 (31), round 6, 2017
Ballan: The Blues will be without ruckman Pat Graham, who has commitments to fulfil with his Ultimate Frisbee career.
Ballan coach Jason McNamara said on Thursday afternoon that important onballer Darren Tanti was a 90 per cent chance to return to the side from a hamstring injury.
Hepburn: The Burras are on a two-match losing streak and won't get back key duo Andy McKay and Dan O'Halloran for this important clash at Ballan.
Hepburn president Jason Dooley expected McKay to return from a hamstring injury after the interleague bye, but said O'Halloran would miss roughly another four weeks with his ankle problem.
Bungaree v Skipton
at Bungaree, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Bungaree 15.13 (103) d Skipton 3.5 (23), round 6, 2017
Bungaree: Demons coach Heath Pyke has forecast the return of gun forward Luke Mirtschin from a hamstring injury, as well as backman Chris Cowan, who missed last weekend's win over Rokewood-Corindhap with a back issue.
But in some bad news, young onballer Ben Willian is set for some time on the sidelines with a shoulder problem.
Skipton: Emus coach Greg Middleton took the Demons to a premiership in 2014 and will come up against his old side this weekend.
Middleton is expecting onballers Kal Dubbeldam and Mark Hoare to both return to the team that beat Daylesford last Saturday.
Buninyong v Waubra
at Buninyong, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Buninyong 8.16 (64) d Waubra 8.11 (59), round 6, 2017
Buninyong: The Bombers are expected to get back influential coach Jarrod Morgan, who steered the ship from the sidelines due to a sore calf last weekend.
Buninyong, which will be without forward Daniel Pelchen for an extended period, beat reigning premiers Hepburn in that clash to continue their hot run of form.
Waubra: It will be a bolstered Roos outfit that takes the field this weekend with ruckman Geordie Lukich and forward Jarred Crabtree among those returning to the line-up.
But in a blow, defender Billy Douglass is out with an AC joint injury and winger Jesse Sardo is missing after hurting an ankle in the big win over Gordon.
Dunnstown v Beaufort
at Dunnstown, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Beaufort 12.8 (80) d Dunnstown 2.5 (17), round 6, 2017
Dunnstown: After an impressive win over Springbank last weekend, the Towners will field an under-strength line-up this Saturday against Beaufort.
The side will be without captain Angus Thompson (knee), ruckman Rylan Rattley (finger) and key pair Harry McKimmie and Matt Bulluss, who have university commitments.
Beaufort: Crows defender Lee Marshall has been struck down with a hamstring injury and won't play in the clash against the Towners.
Marshall was hurt in Beaufort's 100-point win over Ballan at the weekend, which has left the team on top of the ladder.
Gordon v Rokewood-Corindhap
at Gordon, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Gordon 16.14 (110) d Rokewood-Corindhap 8.11 (59), round 6, 2017
Gordon: Big man Angus Watts is back for the Eagles, which played their worst game of the year on the weekend, according to coach Ron Watt.
Watt said his side didn't bring enough effort against Waubra, which has left Gordon 12th on the ladder after five rounds.
Rokewood-Corindhap: Gun onballer Sam Chapman has been declared unfit for the Grasshoppers' trip to Gordon.
Rokewood-Corindhap coach Damon Delaney said Chapman would be rested with "general soreness" arising from last weekend's loss to Bungaree.