NORTH Gippsland football returns from the week’s break on Saturday with a blockbuster.
The top two teams on the ladder, and last year’s grand finalists, Sale City and Heyfield will clash at the Gordon Street Recreation Reserve.
The teams are on the same number of premiership points, but the Bulldogs’ vastly superior percentage has the reigning premiers on top.
But the Bulldogs will have a point to prove against the Kangaroos, who got the hop on them in round one at Stephenson Park. After seeing City’s 2016 premiership flag hoisted, the Kangaroos restricted the home side to just four goals in their 59-point victory.
Out-played by Heyfield, the Bulldogs learned lessons from that defeat, having won their past eight matches. The Bulldogs have rarely been in trouble since that opening round loss, apart from a 12-point victory over Yarram.
The Kangaroos have also only lost once this season, and are enjoying a six-game winning streak, although they have had to work harder to overcome their opponents in some matches.
These teams had big wins before the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, with the Bulldogs winning at Glengarry by 94 points and the Kangaroos thumping TTU by 98 at home.
The match will be one of two focus matches for Orange Round, part of the fight against men’s violence against women and children.
WOODSIDE will be looking to consolidate its spot in the top five with victory at Rosedale.
The Wildcats have won two of their past three matches, divided by a fighting loss to Heyfield.
The Wildcats’ percentage of 90.51, low for a top five team, means they could fall into the bottom half of the ladder if they lose and Cowwarr wins.
The Blues will be buoyed after finally opening their account against Gormandale last round, but could find continuing that winning run against Woodside a harder proposition.
The Wildcats defeated the Blues by 51 points in round one.
YARRAM will take on Traralgon-Tyers United, with perhaps more riding on the contest for the Bombers.
Two wins outside the top five, the eighth-placed Bombers need to begin making up ground. They will need a vastly improved performance compared to their last match, a 98-point thumping at Heyfield.
The third-placed Demons have won their past four matches. A loss for Heyfield will open the door for the Demons to move into second place if they win at Tyers on Saturday.
This match will also be dedicated to Orange Round.
COWWARR has an opportunity to move into the top five, and boost its percentage, at home against Gormandale.
The sixth-placed Saints have had a torrid month, losing consecutive matches against the top three teams. Tomorrow’s game should provide them some respite.
The Tigers will be looking for a closer match against the Saints and their 131-point loss in round one.
CHURCHILL will host Glengarry.
The Cougars have lost their past two games, while the Magpies are coming off a big loss to Sale City.
Glengarry finds itself in a similar position to Cowwarr, four points outside the top five, but has a bit of work to do to improve its percentage.
Currently in fourth, Churchill won a close tussle against the Magpies in round one by 17 points.