Hurst brace for dogfight

SETTING THE TONE: Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes.

SETTING THE TONE: Sandhurst captain Blair Holmes.

Sandhurst and Gisborne to meet in QEO blockbuster

SANDHURST is preparing for nothing less than a four-quarter dogfight from Gisborne in Saturday's Bendigo Football League top-of-the-ladder clash at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.

The Dragons have been ruthless early in their past two games, leading Castlemaine and Kangaroo Flat by 91 and 67 points at half-time to kill off those contests in the first hour.

However, while they will be doing all they can to again stamp their authority early, the Dragons are setting themselves for a torrid tussle against Gisborne until the final siren.

"The priority for us to be aware of on Saturday is respect for our opponents... I'm very strong on that," Sandhurst coach Brett Fitzpatrick said on Friday.

"It doesn't matter who your opponents are; you can't think you're going to be better than anyone else, especially a side like Gisborne.

"If there's a chink in your armour, they will open it up, peel it back and take advantage."

Sandhurst's respect for Gisborne is further heightened with last year's 41-point elimination final loss to the Bulldogs still fresh at the Dragons.

The Dragons - unchanged as their stellar injury run continues - will take the same approach to Saturday's clash as they did in round three against Strathfieldsaye where not only respect for the opposition is paramount, but defensive pressure will be further emphasised.

"It's about going back and taking control of what one of our priorities was at the start of the year, and that's to be predominantly defensive, and then offensive when the opportunity allows," Fitzpatrick said.

"Gisborne has the ability to be a similar side in taking control of the stoppages and making it a real contest.

"Both sides look to have a lot of similarities with their mindset, and Gisborne with their youth and speed of ball movement is probably similar to what we've offered this year as well."

Meanwhile, the game will coincide with Sandhurst's 10-year premiership reunion. The Dragons beat Gisborne by 29 points in the 2004 grand final.

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