THE heat has been turned up on Golden Square in the Bendigo Football Netball League finals race as the Dogs aim to feature in September for a 14th straight season.
Square hosts Gisborne in a massive contest between fifth and sixth on the senior BFNL table, needing a win to put its September credentials beyond doubt.
A Square loss would see them even on points with Gisborne before a round 18 clash with Kyneton away from home.
Their Bulldog counterparts from south of the divide next week host a South Bendigo side that appears to be treading water.
A win in that scenario would see Gisborne claim fifth.
Round 17 hasn’t been kind to Square in recent history, with both of its draws this decade coming in the penultimate weekend.
In 2017, Square and Kyneton couldn’t be split two weeks out from finals, while in 2012 it was a thrilling precursor to that year’s grand final between the two Bulldogs outfits at Wade Street that ended with scores at 94-apiece.
This season Square and Gisborne come into the clash with wildly contrasting form lines.
Square kicked just 3.6 while being dismantled by Strathfieldsaye last week for its third loss in four outings while Gisborne booted 31 goals with five players kicking at least four in a crushing 173-point win over Castlemaine.
In its past five games, Gisborne has lost to Kyneton by a point, Sandhurst by five goals and has knocked off second-placed Eaglehawk and Maryborough before thrashing Castlemaine.
If Square can turn its form around, it will continue a run of finals appearances stretching back since 2004.
In other round 17 matches, South Bendigo hosts Strathfieldsaye, Kangaroo Flat plays Eaglehawk, Castlemaine welcomes Kyneton to Camp Reserve and Sandhurst heads to Maryborough to take on the Magpies.