GOLDEN Square makes one of the toughest trips in Bendigo football as it aims to keep its September hopes alive this weekend in the final round of the 2018 Bendigo Football Netball League home and away season.
Square travels to Kyneton to play the Tigers, who are aiming to secure a top-three position and the double chance in finals.
The Dogs need only a win to assure themselves of a finals berth, but a loss would more than likely see them fall into the clutches of sixth-placed Gisborne, which took a step closer to banging down the door by besting Square last weekend.
The two fought out a scrappy, error-riddled game at Wade Street Oval, combining to kick 14.29 as the visitors scraped home by three points.
Despite Jayden Burke, Hamish Morcom and Brad Eaton returning, the hosts looked somewhat underdone in a game that could have easily gone either way.
The loss means that a Gisborne win over South Bendigo tomorrow and a Square loss would see Gisborne return to finals for the first time since 2014.
Square needs only to win, or have South win on the road, to book its place in the elimination final.
But the Dogs won’t get it all their own way in Kyneton, with thee Tigers needing a win to hold off Sandhurst for the valuable double chance.
The Tigers are set to regain several stars for the crunch match.
The Dragons face Castlemaine and will likely record a huge victory to end a miserable season for the Magpies and place question marks over coach Derrick Filo’s future.
Sandhurst needs to win and have Square beat Kyneton to finish third and face Eaglehawk in a qualifying final. A loss would see them face either of the two Bulldogs sides in the elimination final on Sunday, September 2.
A Kyneton win would see the Tigers finish third and face the Hawks on Saturday, September 1 in the qualifying final. Kyneton is two premiership points clear of Sandhurst thanks to a round one draw against South Bendigo.
In other round 18 matches, the ladder-leading Strathfieldsaye plays Maryborough while second-placed Eaglehawk faces Kangaroo Flat.
The percentage gap between the two makes it virtually impossible for the Hawks to overtake the Storm, even in the unlikely event Strath drops its match against Maryborough.
Meantime, the Heathcote District league is into its second week of finals this weekend, the Loddon Valley league begins its finals series and finals begin this weekend in the Bendigo Junior Football League.
– Joel Peterson