THE Bendigo Pioneers will again blood some new talent as the TAC Cup holds its second futures round this weekend.
The Pioneers head into their round clash with the Greater Western Victoria Rebels at the QEO on Sunday having recorded their second win of the TAC Cup season.
Bendigo proved too good for Gippsland last time out, in the first of the futures round matches.
Noah Wheeler starred for Bendigo with 29 touches and six tackles, while Braydon Vaz booted two goals and was lively up forward taking three contested marks including one highlight reel speccy.
The futures round mandates that each TAC Cup side must play at least 11 bottom-aged players.
Bendigo’s most recent team featured 18 bottom-aged players.
Last time Bendigo met the Rebels the match was a thriller, with the Pioneers prevailing by a point in the season opener at Ballarat’s Mars Stadium.
Will Holt kicked five goals that day as Bendigo stormed home in the final term to overrun the hosts.
Midfielder Zane Keighran will return from Vic Country duties in coming weeks, while star on-baller Jye Caldwell is a few weeks away, but is expected to play for Bendigo before the end of the year.
Caldwell sat out Vic Country’s final two games at the national U18 championships due to a nagging injury.
He suffered a hamstring strain in Vic Country’s opening match against the Allies in Sydney and has not played since, but the club remains confident he will return before the end of the season.
Despite the recent win, Bendigo still sits last on the TAC Cup table with two wins from 10 matches.
The Pioneers play Dandenong, Sandringham, Geelong, Greater Western Victoria and Western Jets in the last five matches before the inaugural wildcard finals series.
The Pioneers have also had a win this week in the under-18 girls ranks, with Kodi Jacques named in the Victoria Country Squad for the national U18 girls championships.
Jacques is the lone Pioneer to be picked in the championships side. The titles will be held in Queensland next week, with Murray Bushrangers coach Sam Ahmet to lead Vic Country.
Vic Country plays Queensland on Monday, the Central Allies on Wednesday and Western Australia on Friday.
– Joel Peterson