NORTH Bendigo has a habit of not making things easy for itself.
As the Bulldogs aim to qualify for a fifth straight Heathcote District Football League decider, they will again need to do so by taking a circuitous path through a preliminary final against Colbinabbin.
The Dogs couldn’t capitalise on taking top spot into the finals series, going down to Leitchville Gunbower last weekend in a thriller by four points.
North rattled home with four goals in the final quarter but Leitchville’s 2.5 in the last stanza allowed the reigning premier to advance to the grand final with the benefit of a week’s rest.
It leaves North needing to win a preliminary final for the fourth straight season when it plays Colbinabbin on Saturday.
It will be the fifth preliminary final North has been a part of in the past six years. In that time the Bulldogs have lost just one grand final play-in, to Huntly in 2014.
North beat Colbinabbin in a preliminary final before winning the premiership in 2015 before getting past Huntly en route to a 2016 flag and again before a grand final loss last year.
The Grasshoppers proved too good for Huntly in last weekend’s second semi final, running out convincing 39-point victors.
The margin would have been greater if not for the inaccuracy of the Hoppers in front of goal, booting a wayward 10.21.
North has won both of the contests between the two sides this year, by 29 points in round nine and by 56 points in round 18.
In A-Grade netball, Colbinabbin is in action against Mount Pleasant with a grand final place against White Hills on the line.
The Demons defeated the Grasshoppers by six goals in a thriller last Sunday to go straight through to the decider on September 8.
Mounts were too good for Elmore and will aim to cause a second straight upset to send Colbinabbin out in straight sets.
In Loddon Valley league action, Newbridge meets Maiden Gully YCW at Pyramid Hill with a grand spot on the line and Pyramid Hill plays Mitiamo in the elimination semi final at Maiden Gully.
– Joel Peterson