THE toughest task in the Heathcote and District Football League awaits Lockington-Bamawm United this weekend.
LBU will face undefeated North Bendigo, which has looked brilliant throughout the season, rarely pushed on its way to 11 straight wins.
The Cats had won three straight games heading into last week’s clash with Huntly, but couldn’t handle the jump in class to a top-four side, punished after quarter-time to lose by 117 points.
And missing some of its key men, LBU coach Peter Gibbs expects a similarly difficult challenge against the Bulldogs.
‘‘It’s going to be very tough. A few of our talls aren’t available and they’ve got the best tall forwards in the league,’’ he said.
‘‘We need to put as much pressure on in the midfield to try and limit their forwards.
‘‘We know it’s a massive ask. Hopefully we can rise to the challenge but we probably need our best side on the park to compete.’’
The Cats were comfortably beaten by the Bulldogs in round five, going down by 117 points.
But their form has been better in recent weeks, and Gibbs said they would compete and play the attacking football seeing them win games in recent weeks.
‘‘There’s no sense going into our shells. We need to get some control of the game and stay composed,’’ he said.
Gibbs added the game was a massive opportunity for his side to learn from some of the league’s best players.
‘‘You want to learn from the class players they have and rise to the challenge,’’ he said.
‘‘We will get beaten at times but we need to make sure we learn from that.
‘‘We might try a key forward down back so they can learn how their opposition play the position.’’
LBU would need a miracle to close the three-game gap to the top five and finals positions, but will be pushing in the back end of the season to hold sixth place, a considerable improvement on last season’s ninth.
■ LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER faces Heathcote this weekend in another game it shouldn’t have any trouble winning.
The Bombers did everything expected of them last weekend facing Elmore, belting the Bloods by 170 points.
And this weekend’s game has a similar feel to it, Heathcote struggling with a 3-9 record in 2017.
Having struggled with injuries through the first half of 2017, the returning players are getting some run into their legs in the lead up to finals.
And the LG form is lifting at the right time with much-improved performances since the loss to North Bendigo in round seven.
The Bombers face Huntly next weekend before the important rematch with the Bulldogs the week after, a game potentially deciding who finishes on top of the ladder.
Heathcote was beaten by Colbinabbin last weekend by 47 points, the side’s fifth straight defeat.
■ LOCKINGTON-BAMAWM United’s A grade netball faces another must-win game this weekend in the race for Heathcote and District Netball League finals.
LBU is hot on the heels of Leitchville-Gunbower who are currently occupying the last spot in the finals, both sides with six wins with the Bombers’ percentage giving them the edge.
And this weekend’s match with North Bendigo is a brilliant chance for a fourth straight win with the Bulldogs only 3-8 this season.
The Cats had enough to see off the Bulldogs when the sides met in round five, winning 43-26.
■ LEITCHVILLE-GUNBOWER can’t afford to make any mistakes this weekend when it hosts Heathcote in the Heathcote and District Netball League in Gunbower.
The Bombers are locked in a race for finals, and shouldn’t have any trouble disposing of a Heathcote side still looking for its first win of 2017.
LG handled similarly-placed Elmore comfortably last weekend, winning by 30 goals, and would expect a similarly strong win on Saturday.
Heathcote has been more competitive in recent weeks but should struggle to match up with the more experienced Bombers.