Pioneers face crucial test against North Ballarat

THE Bendigo Bank Pioneers face a big test in Saturday afternoon's TAC Cup under-18s match against North Ballarat Rebels at Epsom-Huntly Reserve.

Both clubs are on the rebound from defeat when the clash kicks off at 1.30pm.

It's been several seasons since the Pioneers have won a battle with their goldfields rival in Bendigo.

Pioneers coach David Newett said despite a first-round loss to Murray, Bendigo would carry momentum from its last-quarter fightback at Shepparton.

The Pioneers have called up Kangaroo Flat midfielder Liam Collins and Rochester's Jed Brain to replace Kerang's Jaden McGrath, on tour with the AIS-AFL Academy, and the injured Arnold Kirby from Swan Hill.

Newett said a key to the battle with North Ballarat would be the Pioneers response when the Rebels have momentum.

"How we defend, what we do to win the ball back will be really important. Tackling and pressure are areas we will be focused on."

Newett said capitalising in attack was another target for the Pioneers to achieve.

"We generated enough run from half-back and through midfield to set up plenty of scoring shots against the Bushrangers," he said of the 28 chances.

The Pioneers will look for plenty of dash from the likes of Tommy Cole, Cameron Barrett, Marty Hore, Ryley Barrack to put the Rebels under the pump. 

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