Pioneers face Dragons' fire at Carlton

Winless the past two and four rounds respectively, te Bendigo Bank Pioneers and Sandringham Dragons will be fired up for today’s AFL Victoria TAC Cup under-18 match at Carlton’s Visy Park.

Since a hard-fought victory against Calder Cannons, Bendigo’s past two hit-outs have ended in defeat to North Ballarat and Murray.

The Dragons, who have a record of four wins, six losses and a draw, did not earn any premiership points in June.

Bendigo, 3-8, is 11th on the ladder and will have to put in a four-quarter effort to snuff out the Dragons’ fire.

Pioneers coach David Newett said a key to victory would be a consistent four-quarter effort.

“Defensive efforts are a major focus for us,” said Newett.

“Our efficiency when we go forward has to be better.

“We are winning enough of the footy, but not scoring enough from chances,” the coach said.

The Pioneers regain Strathfieldsaye Storm on-baller Sam Heavyside after a two-week break because of injury.

“Having Sam back is a huge plus,” said Newett.

“It’s not just his ability to win at clearances and link up with team-mates, but also his chasing and tackling that lifts the team.”

Storm clubmate Harry Conway earnt a recall, while Irymple’s Bryce Heeps and Lockington-Bamawm’s Trent Bacon add a lot of pace and skill.

The athletic Conway, who has played most of the season in attack, was named in defence.

After playing well in recent weeks across half-back, Sandhurst’s Harry O’Meara is out of TAC Cup action to be the 23rd player for Bendigo Gold in this afternoon’s VFL clash with Port Melbourne on the Borough’s turf at North Port Oval.

The Pioneers targets across half-forward are Sandhurst clubmates Billy Evans and Alex Hywood, and Kyneton’s versatile big man Jordan Mangan.

The play of captain Jacob Chisari, Liam Byrne, Jaden McGrath, Cameron Barrett, Fergus Payne and Ben Connelly through midfield  will be crucial to Bendigo’s chances.

Today’s match starts at 1pm.

Meanwhile, the release of players in contention for the Bendigo Pioneers best team of 21 years has generated plenty of interest.

In compiling the list, Eaglehawk’s Damien Lock and Wycheproof-Narraport’s Corey Jones were accidentally deleted.

Jones kickeed 216 goals in 157 matches for North Melbourne, and Lock played 18 matches for Carlton.

Selectors also added Kieran O’Shannessy, a tough half-back flanker, to the list. 



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