THE Bendigo Gold will face its biggest test of the season when it plays Collingwood at Victoria Park on Saturday, according to coach Aussie Jones.
The Magpies are only in eighth place on the ladder with a 3-2 record, but will field their best team of the season against the winless Gold.
Collingwood has 14 players with AFL experience, including premiership defender Nathan Brown, Ben Sinclair, Alex Fasolo, Paul Seedsman, Taylor Adams, Marty Clarke, Ben Kennedy and ruckman Ben Hudson.
“Collingwood will be the strongest team we’ve faced this season,’’ Jones said.
“Before Thursday night, Collingwood’s senior team was playing really well and they had few injuries.
“The VFL team is up and about, they have plenty of AFL experience and the competition for spots in the AFL side is very high.”
The Gold are coming off the bye and Jones expects a much better performance than the 11-goal loss to Port Melbourne the previous week.
“We need to break it down to some key areas,’’ Jones said.
“We need to win one-on-one match-ups and win the contested ball.
“In our games against Geelong and Essendon, when we were very competitive, we won the contested ball statistic.
“Against Footscray and Port Melbourne we got blown out of the water. We need to be better than that.
“The other thing we need to do is reduce the opposition’s number of uncontested marks.
“We can’t afford to let the opposition run free and chip the ball around.”
The Gold’s cause hasn’t been helped by injuries to skipper Steven Stroobants and running defender Galen Munari.
Stroobants hyper-extended his elbow at training last Monday, while Munari injured his knee playing for South Bendigo last weekend.
“We’re hoping Stroobs will only miss this week and be back for our game against North Ballarat in Swan Hill next week,’’ Jones said.
“Stroobs is from up Swan Hill way originally, so it would be great for him to play up there.
“Galen’s knee injury isn’t as bad as we first thought. Four weeks was a good result in the end.”