Carngham-Linton v Waubra
at Snake Valley, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Waubra 18.16 (124) d Carngham-Linton 2.8 (20), round 15, 2017
A bad concussion looks as though it will keep Waubra gun James Lukich sidelined until the start of the Central Highlands Football League finals series.
Lukich suffered a bad head knock in the round 12 game against Rokewood-Corindhap and has failed to take the field since.
Waubra coach Matt James said Lukich would likely sit out until the Roos’ first final.
Waubra currently sits at the top of the ladder and looks almost certain to claim the minor premiership with an easy run to the playoffs.
The side has Carngham-Linton and Clunes before a round 17 bye.
While Lukich remains out, the return of key forward Jarred Crabtree and big man Jonathon Neville to the side that beat Creswick last weekend is a massive boost.
Crabtree was out with a rib issue, while Neville was unavailable.
Carngham-Linton coach Matt Beaston will be demanding a vastly improved performance on the one that saw the team thrashed by Hepburn last Saturday afternoon.
The Saints were embarrassed by the reigning premiers, which conceded just a solitary behind in a huge 211-point win.
Beaston said key players Brodie Doolan, Jake Pring and Jacob Dawson would all return to the senior team this weekend, but revealed winger Josh Benfield was unavailable to take on the Roos.
Bungaree v Gordon
at Bungaree, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Gordon 12.17 (89) d Bungaree 10.7 (67), elimination final, 2017
Gordon has named three key inclusions as it goes in search of a ninth-straight success this weekend.
Versatile tall players Luke Gunnell and Angus Watts are back, as is onballer Matt Raworth.
All three missed last Saturday’s big win over Daylesford, which allowed the Eagles to keep their place in fourth position on the Central Highlands Football League ladder.
Gunnell and Watts were unavailable for that game, while Raworth was rested after a heavy workload in the weeks prior.
In a blow, utility Steve Nicholson will miss this clash after accepting a one-match set penalty for carelessly striking against the Bulldogs. Nicholson had his number taken for an incident with Daylesford player Joel Cummings.
Meanwhile, Bungaree coach Heath Pyke has conceded his season is over due to a fractured tibia.
Pyke said he sustained the injury against Newlyn a couple of weeks ago and has ruled an end to his 2018 campaign.
Bungaree went down in a thriller to rivals Springbank last Saturday and is now eighth on the table.
Key recruit Ryan Waight suffered a hamstring injury in that game and he is one of the major outs for the battle with Gordon.
After the Eagles, the Demons have a showdown with Buninyong.
Learmonth v Dunnstown
at Learmonth, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Dunnstown 9.10 (64) d Learmonth 3.3 (21), round 15, 2017
Justin Abrams has agreed to a fifth year as Dunnstown’s senior coach.
The club has reappointed Abrams to the role he first took up leading into the 2015 Central Highlands Football League season.
Since then, he has slowly lifted the team up the table. In 2014, the Towners finished second last with just two wins and last year missed finals only by percentage.
Dunnstown is knocking on the door for a finals appearance once again and needs to beat Learmonth this weekend to keep its name in the conversation.
As it stands, the Towners and Lakies are level on 32 points, a game behind the eighth-placed Bungaree with three home and away rounds remaining.
Dunnstown has recalled ruckman Rylan Rattley for his first game since surgery to repair an injured hand, while skipper Angus Thompson is among the inclusions after recovering from a hamstring strain.
In all, five changes have been made to the side that beat Clunes before last weekend’s bye.
Over at Learmonth and the return of winger/forward Brodrick Campbell is an important one.
Campbell hasn’t played seniors since badly injuring his knee in the clash with Newlyn during mid-June.
The Lakies are looking to bounce back from a one-point loss to Ballan last Saturday.
Clunes v Hepburn
at Clunes, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Hepburn 24.18 (162) d Clunes 6.4 (40), round 15, 2017
Clunes: The Magpies will be without their most influential player for the tough battle with Hepburn.
Interleague representative Jesse Baird is unavailable for the clash with the Burras, which coach Johno Leoncini helped take to the flag last season as an assistant to Jason Olver.
Hepburn: Burras champion Andy McKay is back from overseas travel and ready to return.
McKay is back in a Hepburn side that finally returned to the top eight on the back of Saturday’s thumping victory over Carngham-Linton.
Creswick v Rokewood-Corindhap
at Creswick, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Creswick 14.6 (90) d Rokewood-Corindhap 8.15 (63), round 15, 2017
Creswick: The Wickers are in the midst of a losing streak that reached eight-straight matches on Saturday.
Coach Ryan Knowles and his men put up a brave fight, but eventually went down to ladder-leaders Waubra.
Rokewood-Corindhap: Grasshoppers coach Damon Delaney has been named to make his comeback from a hamstring injury this Saturday.
Delaney coached from the sidelines as Rokewood-Corindhap brought up just its second triumph of the season against Skipton last weekend.
Daylesford v Buninyong
at Daylesford, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Buninyong 9.15 (69) d Daylesford 10.5 (65), semi final, 2017
Daylesford: Toby Hughes and Seb Eyles were unavailable for last weekend's heavy loss to Gordon, but both are back to take on Buninyong.
Shane Black was reported for striking against the Eagles and must sit out the game against the Bombers after accepting a one-match ban.
Buninyong: After a shock loss to Newlyn last weekend, the Bombers are out to bounce back in the spa country.
Key figures Jarrod Rodgers (unavailable) and Fraser Russell (hamstring) missed that game, but return on Saturday, while Sam Turner will be sidelined after injuring a hamstring against the Cats.
Newlyn v Ballan
at Newlyn, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Ballan 13.6 (84) d Newlyn 7.10 (52), round 15, 2017
Newlyn: Cats forward Declan Lourey has had surgery on a badly dislocated finger which occurred during the team’s memorable one-point win over Buninyong on Saturday.
Jason Slater hurt a shoulder in that game and will miss this fixture along with star onballer Steve Clifton, who is unavailable.
Ballan: Glenn Ross will take over the reins as senior coach in the absence of Jason McNamara this weekend.
McNamara is away on holidays, but will return for the last two games of the home and away season. The Blues have won five out of their last six games to be in 11th spot on the ladder.
Skipton v Springbank
at Skipton, Saturday, 2.30pm
Last time: Springbank 26.22 (178) d Skipton 5.7 (37), round 15, 2017
Skipton: The Emus let slip a good opportunity for victory against Rokewood-Corindhap last weekend, but get another chance against an undermanned rival this Saturday.
And Skipton is likely to get back the important Angus Mason, who has been unavailable in recent weeks.
Springbank: Michael Searl, Billy Driscoll, Chris Graham and Brock Freeman will be among the key names missing for the Tigers this weekend.
Springbank coach Troy Beamond said all four had ruled themselves unavailable with other commitments in what shapes as a danger game for the boys in yellow and black.