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Central Highlands F&NL

A hurried handball by Saints Alistair Francis and avoiding the tackle by Rowan Prentice.

Beaufort was best served by Joe Mason and Alex Petrie in their comfortable win over Smythesdale.

Hepburn star for the day Travis Minns gets a tackle as he touches the ball then kicks a goal from the boundary from an acute angle.
Hepburn star for the day Travis Minns gets a tackle as he touches the ball then kicks a
goal from the boundary from an acute angle.

However an added bonus was the return to senior level of Levi Cox who has been has been out since the start of the season. This game at Beaufort against Dunnstown is going to be one of the matches of the round and potentially Beaufort could see itself on top of the ladder by Saturday evening dependent on the result of the clash between league leader Bungaree and third placed Waubra.

Bungaree were able to comfortably overcome Skipton last week but it was their defence which were prominent in their better players with the Emus being able to blunt the Demon’s scoring power to some degree. Centre Half Back Tom Wilson had his best game for the season and was backed up by Nich Weightman who is continuing to develop into a key player for coach Heath Pyke.

This defence will again need to be at its best this Saturday if it is to blunt the tall scoring options of the Kangaroos.

Tim Boyle had one of his better games up forward and Mark Nunn kicked another two goals for Waubra. The clash between Wilson and Boyle next Saturday could be one of the highlights of the season. The former Hawthorn forward has the class to dominate at this level but Tom Wilson showed in last year’s grand final that he is able to stop the best forwards in the league.

Whoever wins this battle could set up their team for a win.

Bungaree have lost just two matches in two seasons and whilst this will be one of their biggest challenges they should remain undefeated and Waubra could drop to fourth on the ladder behind Gordon. Hepburn, Buninyong and Springbank in fourth, fifth and sixth places on the ladder are all waiting to swoop on those above them and should keep the pressure well and truly on as they each will be able to account for Rokewood Corindhap, Smythesdale and Learmonth. Clunes and Newlyn shapes as a fascinating clash between clubs near each other on the ladder. The final score between Springbank and Clunes on Saturday belied the manner in which the game was played.

The Magpies were held scoreless until half time but they had many opportunities to score however just couldn’t find that final clean possession, even when they were within ten meters from goal.

Nice bit of high flying for Skipton’s Cameron Postlewaite but he failed to hold on to the ball.
Nice bit of high flying for Skipton’s Cameron Postlewaite but he failed to hold on to the ball.

Michael McKenzie is having a really strong season for Clunes and his work across the half backline saved many more scoring opportunities for Springbank eventually though the number of entries became too much for the Clunes defence to withstand. The cohesion of the Springbank backline was like a brick wall but Clunes are not likely to face the same situation against Newlyn this week. If they are able to generate as many entries into their forward 30 meters they should be able to put plenty of pressure on Newlyn to be able to score regularly to remain in the match. This shapes as a good opportunity for Clunes to notch another win, but they must keep Will and Kallen Young and Daniel Wehrung away from the football. Ballan had too much depth for Newlyn last week and are playing good football against most clubs and this week against Skipton should be no different. Both clubs should find the small Ballan oval to their liking but overall class of the home team should enable them to have a comfortable win.

Daylesford youngsters break their drought After a tough initial seven rounds to the season Daylesford has been able to break their drought with a victory over Learmonth last Saturday and add another nail into a disappointing season for the Lakers. Learmonth had every right to believe that they were moving into a position where they would be challenging some of the leading clubs after making finals last season and a strong batch of youngsters moving through. This year’s form so far indicates that they are probably a bit further away from the top than they realised and there needs to be a few more years of development go into making a strong challenge at the finals. Whilst they have two wins they don’t look capable of getting into a position where they can challenge for finals action again this year. Daylesford are very strong in their commitment this year to bring through a good batch of juniors to make them strong contributors in this level of football and it has been a tough start for them losing each of the first seven rounds and at times by significant margins.

However on Saturday they were able to jump away from the first bounce with an inspired quarter which set up the win over Learmonth. Nine goals to four in the first quarter gave the Bulldogs the lead they needed and they were able to maintain this momentum to outscore Learmonth a further nine goals to eight in the remaining three quarters. Matthew Bolton is into his fourth year of seniors but had a breakout match kicking a game high six goals and was supported by veterans Andrew Button with four and Robbie Rodgers with two. The challenge with any development though is to be able to continue building on previous successes and Daylesford are facing a big challenge to take another step forward this week when they travel to Gordon. Gordon have been struggling to put in a four quarter effort in recent weeks and the same appeared to be the case on Saturday when they were slow away against Dunnstown and then after a dominant nine goal second quarter were outscored by Dunnstown in the second half. It was again a case of a rush of goals and then a loss of momentum for the Eagles.

Tye Murphy, Harley Hunter and Matthew Raworth were some of the few Gordon players who were able to contribute throughout the four quarters.

Dunnstown’s veteran ruck Mark Stewart is having very strong period in recent weeks and his good form continued again this week, giving the small brigade of Aaron Sawers, Daniel McGrath and Sam Cameron plenty of opportunities to get possession at stoppages.

To get within 20 points of Gordon was a strong effort by Dunnstown and continues to highlight that they are an improving team and could well be a key factor in shaping the finals over the remaining second half of the season.

This week they have another very big task playing away to Beaufort who remain nicely placed in second place on the ladder.

However as was demonstrated last week Dunnstown is capable of matching it with the higher placed teams if they are not on top of their game.