THE Bendigo Gold takes on VFL ladder-leader Port Melbourne today with the incentive of locking up a finals berth if it can upset the Borough.
With two rounds remaining in the season, the Gold are in eighth position and just percentage clear of the ninth-placed North Ballarat.
But with the Roosters having the bye this weekend, a Bendigo win would ensure the Gold enters the last round against Box Hill a game clear of North Ballarat, and with a sizeable percentage advantage as well.
“There’s plenty of incentive for the boys to get a win tomorrow,” Gold coach Hayden Skipworth said yesterday.
“Another two wins would guarantee we play finals, and one more we’re still likely to get there, so hopefully, we can get that win tomorrow.”
However, to win today the Gold will need to turn around a form slump in which they have lost their past four games.
The Gold – who will again be without injured co-captain Ben Duscher – haven’t won since beating North Ballarat by 26 points on July 8.
In their four losses since to the Casey Scorpions, Sandringham, Geelong and Collingwood they have continually combined periods of dominance with lapses that have ultimately cost them the chance of winning.
“We’ve only been playing a quarter or two each game, so it’s definitely going to be a strong message to the boys that we need to play four quarters tomorrow,” Skipworth said.
“Consistency throughout the game has been the area that has been letting us down the most over the past month.”
Bendigo has lost its past four games against Port Melbourne by an average of 42 points.
Bendigo last beat the Borough in round two, 2010, when the then Bendigo Bombers ended what was a 25-game losing streak.
“Port Melbourne is the benchmark of the competition and have been for the past two years, so it’s a big test for our players,” Skipworth said.
Today’s game at North Port Oval starts at 1.10pm and will be televised live on ABC TV.
Meanwhile, in the TAC Cup, the Bendigo Pioneers are at home today against the Western Jets at the Epsom-Huntly Reserve from 1pm.
It will be the Pioneers’ last home game of the season.