THE hunted today becomes the hunter.
That’s how Golden Square coach Mark Lloyd is approaching today’s Bendigo Football League top-of-the-ladder blockbuster against Gisborne at MyJet Oval.
For the past three years Golden Square has been the most sought-after scalp in the BFL.
And it’s a scalp that hasn’t come easy for opposition, with the Bulldogs having lost just six of their past 76 games since their reign of dominance that has netted a hat-trick of premierships began in 2009.
But today Golden Square is hunting the scalp of Gisborne – the team that sits at the top of the ladder and belted Square by 67 points in their round eight meeting.
“I guess it’s a bit of a switch in mentality for the playing group,” Lloyd said yesterday.
“We see it as going in with nothing to lose being the hunter, as opposed to the hunted all the time.
“We’ve got a group of guys at the moment who are starting to play some good football and we feel we’re in a better position compared to when we played them last time, so we’re hoping we can give a better account of ourselves.
“Gisborne beat us by 67 points last time and showed us how to go about it, so they deserve to go into this game as favourites and carrying the tag as flag favourites with the form they’ve shown.”
Golden Square’s last performance against Gisborne on June 2 at Gardiner Reserve was un-Square like with the renowned intensity and defensive pressure that has been its trait over the past three years sorely lacking.
But the dismal performance appears to have been the mid-season wake-up call Golden Square needed as it has since won its past eight games by an average of 63 points.
However, it’s not the best current winning streak in the BFL, with Gisborne having won its past 10 games by an average of 65 points.
Despite their last one-sided meeting, Gisborne coach Luke Saunders said his side would have to be at its best if it’s to beat Golden Square again.
“It’s fantastic having these type of challenges at this time of the year, and no doubt, we’re going to have to be at our best,” Saunders said.
“We’ll be expecting Golden Square to hit back hard after last time... we’ve had a lot of good battles over the years, so hopefully, this is another of those great games of footy.”
Among the outs for the Gisborne side are injured captain Casey Summerfield, who has had an outstanding season in his first year as skipper.
“He hurt his hip last week, and after doing a fair bit of physical training last night, he said he wouldn’t be right for tomorrow, so it was a selfless act to pull himself out,” Saunders said.
On the positive, Gisborne welcomes back the evergreen Anthony Belcher and Tim Stanton-Smith to shore up the defence, while consistent forward Matt Knox also returns.
With Belcher back, he’s likely to oppose Matt O’Toole, while Heath Simpson will again get the job on Grant Weeks after holding the star Square forward to just three goals in round eight.
“Simmo did a good job on Weeksy last time, but probably the key for us was the midfield battle,” Saunders said.
“The midfield is important in every game, but against Golden Square their midfield stars can really dictate a contest if you allow them to. So we’ll have to be on our game all over the ground, especially in the midfield.”
Gisborne last won at Golden Square in 2007. It has since lost its past four games at MyJet Oval by margins of 15, 49, 140 and 39 points.