South Coach Brady Childs will step down at the end of the 2018 season. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

SOUTH Bendigo will be looking for a new coach next season with Brady Childs stepping down from the role at the end of the 2018 campaign.

Childs has led the Bloods for three years after returning from Shepparton Swans, where he won a Goulburn Valley Football League premiership in 2015.

He has turned the Bloods from cellar dwellers to finals contenders, but hasn’t been able to push South Bendigo into the final five.

This season has been largely disappointing for the Bloods, who were expected to be in finals contention but have just five wins from 13 games.

Childs has been left to lament by injuries to key players in his tenure, and has also battled his own woes after sitting out the 2016 season due to a knee

He then suffered another knee injury last year that ruled him out until the middle of this season.

While Childs won’t be coaching in 2019, he will continue at South as a player next season.

“It’s been a tough decision as I love coaching this great club and working with such an awesome group,” he said.

“However, family and work commitments have made it tough finding the time that I think is required for the role.”

Bloods president Rick Townsend said the club was disappointed Childs would not continue in the role next year.

“As a club we’ve been fortunate to have Brady as head coach over the past three seasons. It is clear to us that the club as a whole and not just the playing group has grown as a result,” he said.

It comes as the Bloods enter an important fortnight off the field.

The club will hold its 125th anniversary celebrations tonight before a Kennington reunion event next weekend.

Meantime, Sandhurst faces a critical game in its Bendigo Football Netball League finals pursuit tomorrow, when it travels to Gisborne to take on the in-form Bulldogs.

Andrew Collins has been in red hot form for the Dragons. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

The Dragons head into the clash off the back of an impressive win over Strathfieldsaye, in which they thumped the reigning premiers by nine goals to end the Storm’s 11-match unbeaten streak.

The performance was easily Sandhurst’s best of the season, and shored up their spot inside the final five as Gisborne lost to Kyneton by a point.

Coach Andrew Collins led the way, kicking six goals in his best performance in the Dragons’ colours, while the addition of Zac Pallpratt bolstered an already stout defensive unit.

The win put the Dragons a game and 58 percentage points ahead of the Bulldogs with five matches to play, but they are far from safe.

Sandhurst faces Gisborne today before Kyneton, Golden Square, Castlemaine and Maryborough in the run home. The Dragons would start favourites in the latter two games, and a 50-50 chance in the former pair.

Gisborne plays both the Magpies sides before tackling Square at Wade Street and hosting South Bendigo in the season’s final round, making a win tomorrow to get them back onto level terms all the more critical.

The Dogs would start favourites against Castlemaine, Maryborough and the Bloods, and defeated Square earlier in the season.

Square is just a game ahead of the Dragons, but can lock down its spot by beating South Bendigo and Kangaroo Flat in the next fortnight.

While the sides to comprise the finals are full of intrigue, the league has also changed the schedule of this year’s matches.

The first day of finals on September 1 clashes with the planned White Night celebrations in Bendigo and has forced the league to change the qualifying final from a night game to a day match.

League manager Cam Tomlins said the decision was reached after conversations with council, White Night organisers and Victoria Police to avoid a direct clash.

He said road closures and an influx of visitors to the city have the potential to cause several logistical challenges, and separating the two events to avoid a direct clash would assist in the management of both events.

Sunday’s elimination final on September 2 will go ahead as scheduled as an afternoon match with a 2.20pm start.