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BFNL Weekend Preview - Round 11, 2024

A number of big clashes await in Round 11 with teams striving for a finals berth set to test themselves against genuine September outfits.






Last time they met - Redan 65 def. by Melton 132 (City Oval, Round 5 2023)

If it's any consolation for the Lions ahead of the weekend, they'll face a Bloods outfit a handful shy of their best 22 with Riley Walker (jaw) and Jordy Cotter (ankle) the latest pairing set for a stint on the sidelines.

While it's clear the top five sides have a clear edge on the remaining six, one spot in the finals is up for grabs.

Given that very little percentage separates those in the running for sixth, Redan won't be rolling over easily and will take it up to the flag favorites for periods.

Can the Lions get bang for buck for their forward 50 entries in the absence of Riley Walker and Cotter?

Grant Bell is on a ten-game stretch returning multiple goals while newcomer and Geelong VFL listed talent Lachie Bond will provide a headache for the Bloods’ defence.

Marty Boyer and Lachie McLean are not shy around goal either and will keep the visitors honest.

Despite injuries to a key few, the Bloods remain the team to beat regardless of any BFNL opposition.

The emotional toll of last week’s nail-biting win over Sunbury can play out in two ways.

One, they're well on the way to at least another minor premiership and no team will stand in their way - or two, there is a chance of a flat performance given the nature of what has transpired.

Whatever the scenario, you would be brave to tip against them.

Not me. 


Melton South


North Ballarat


Last time they met - North Ballarat 206 def. Melton South 14 (Mars Stadium, Round 8 2023)

The winless Panthers will endure the second of back-to-back top five assignments when they host North Ballarat at Melton Recreation Reserve.

Both sides have had their fair share of bad luck on the injury front and will look for a response from their respective depth stocks who will be given an opportunity.

Star North Ballarat midfielder Riley Polkinghorne suffered a nasty ankle injury in the second quarter of last week’s loss to East Point and is set for a period on the sidelines, joining fellow playmakers Jamie Quick and Tom Bromley-Lynch.

Credit to the undermanned Roosters hitting the front against East Point in the last quarter before the Kangas were able to steady and kick away late.

While the absence of Polkinghorne will not affect this coming result, the nature of the predicted percentage boost may have taken a hit.

Just 'how far the Roosters?' has been quelled somewhat with the absence of key personnel.

Travis Hodgson's Panthers showed a bit last week against the Devils with their 'top end' players all making a contribution leading one of the youngest sides seen in the BFNL for sometime.

And they will need to produce again to avoid a 20-goal plus defeat.

Even with injury, you know what you're going to get from the Roosters - a feverish appetite for the contest and a well-structured set-up behind the ball that makes it hard for opposition to score.

Given the Panthers’ average less than 30 points per game, surpassing that return will be a challenge.  

Roosters’ coach Brendan McCartney will be hoping to get through unscathed and be looking for his players to develop on good habits ahead of the back end of the season when everything starts to heat up.

North Ballarat's double-up's post the interleague bye includes Darley (A), Melton (H), Bacchus Marsh (H), Ballarat (A), East Point (A) and Redan (A). 

North Ballarat





Last time they met - Sunbury 89 def. Ballarat 37 (Clarke Oval, Round 13 2023)

Sunbury head to Ballarat for a fourth time already this season, to take on the Swans at Alfredton Oval.

Lions coach Matty White would have been proud of his boys last week despite their narrow loss at home to Melton in arguably the best game of the year.

So, for the touring party it's not about rebounding or a response needed against the Swans, rather more of the same that has earned them an impressive seven win season and third spot on the BFNL ladder.

There's enough body of work seen from the Lions giving every indication they're the real deal and you know what you're going to get.

With the off-season addition of quality personnel and spike in performance of players who were already at Sunbury, the future looks bright - not dissimilar to the age profile of Melton that took them to the 2018 Grand Final before the crowning glory achievement of 2022.

For Chris Maple's Ballarat another challenge in the form of top five opposition presents and what an opportunity that is in front of home fans - a chance to measure yourselves against the pointy end.

So far for the Swans however, the challenge has proven beyond them.

Some mini-wins here at home will be the order of the day starting with the one non-negotiable - effort.

For without effort, surely the balance sheet of potential mini wins becomes null and void.

The Swans sit in sixth spot on the ladder with an asterix of vulnerability next to their name.

They along with Redan, Bacchus Marsh and Sebastopol are in a fight for the elusive sixth spot.

If the Swans want to rid themselves of the asterix and potentially making up the numbers come September, an honourable loss is the least we can ask of a group not shy on talent.




Lake Wendouree


Last time they met - Darley 143 def. Lake Wendouree 32 (Darley Park, Round 14 2023)

Don't expect Darley to have it all their own way when they host the Lakers on Saturday.

Rival coaches have gone on the record complimenting the one-win Lakers on their endeavour for long periods that culminated with an impressive 174-point win over Melton South in Round 9.

Rohan Brown's travelling party will be looking for further improvement off the bye, up against top four opposition.

While it's never really a good time to get Darley at Darley given their recent home record, coach Dan Jordan would be the first to concede the Devils have a bit of work to do recapturing the aura of last year.

So regardless of the two sides separation on the BFNL table, weight of progress will surely be measured in the aftermath.

Just what that looks like for Brown and Jordan is likely to remain 'in-house' but for those of us on the outside, the scoreboard will tell enough.

Did the Melton South game flatter the Lakers? They looked very good on the vision, playing a large part of the group into form for an assignment against a Devils outfit still trying to find their best.

Containing the Devils’ top end talent will be an afternoon long struggle for the developing Lakers who should embrace the experience.

While Brett Bewley and Billy Myers are the obvious trump cards expected to have the greatest influence, Jordan's challenge remains getting a deeper spread of contributors, preferably out of the Devils’ 'bottom half'.

The Lakers’ talls will keep the Devils honest.

Tom Zampatti, Jaydyn Wright and Felix Fogarty make up a healthy spine through the middle and forward of the ball.

Hybrid forward and Lakers’ leading goalkicker Bailey Thompson keeps hitting the scoreboard regardless of the opposition and is likely to have earned the respect out of the Devils’ camp with a designated match up.

Not sure what version we're going to get of these two sides. Darley will surely do enough, but how far?

Will the Devils impress with a tick forward in the right direction or can the Lakers back up their recent efforts by keeping the margin in check, something they've failed to do at Darley Park their previous two visits.


East Point


Bacchus Marsh


Last time they met - Bacchus Marsh 55 def. by East Point 98 (Maddingley Park, Round 10 2023)

The Kangas will start warm favorites making it nine wins in a row when they host the Cobras at Eastern Oval.

It's been six years since the Cobras have enjoyed success at the venue and given the sample size of the season to date, don't expect the pattern to change.

The Cobras’ slim chances hang on the availability of premier ruck Luke Goetz who is a genuine barometer for the team, leading with his positivity by voice and proud example with action.

A tough afternoon looms for the Cobras given the depth of talent and form held by the hosts. Just who you target with a match up or run with role is a guess given they've up to 10 players worthy of thought.

The Kangas’ midfield bats as deep as any in the comp and will look to assume control early against a Cobras’ outfit without veteran Tyson Shea and Goetz (doubtful).

The Johnston brothers, Mikitja Rottumah-Onus lead a healthy band at the feet of underrated competitor Joel Van Meel who continues to hold his own for long periods in the ruck with barely a rest.

As if the Cobras’ concerns weren't restricted to the A-Grade midfield talent of the Kangas, the make-up of the hosts forward line poses another quandary for Dennis Armfield and his staff.

Given the plentiful assets at Kangas’ coach Joe Carmody's disposal, maybe Armfield goes down the track of using Saturday as another opportunity to shuffle the magnets, a variation on what we already know.

Maybe there's a better version of the Cobras best 22 and their most suitable positions. Who knows?

What we do know however, is that the Cobras will be stretched by the Kangas to the point where the touring party is left with little choice but to experiment.

Finding the right combination for the Cobras to score, defend and maintain possession between the arcs remains a work in progress jigsaw.

While it's likely the Kangas winning run will continue for at least another week, let's hope for Cobras fans it's an encouraging step in the right direction on the development front. 

East Point