BENDIGO Gold coach Aussie Jones has strong belief in his playing group to bounce back from a week of on and off field VFL drama.
The Gold take on Sandringham at Trevor Barker Oval on Sunday on the back of a double blow.
Last Sunday at the QEO the Gold fell agonisingly short of winning their first game as a stand-alone club when they were beaten by the Northern Blues by five points with the last kick of the game.
The heartbreak of last Sunday’s defeat was followed on Wednesday night when the playing group was told the Gold would not be renewing its VFL licence at the end of the season and that this will be the club’s final year in the competition.
“My gut feel on Sunday is we’ll fight tooth and nail for every contest, just like we did against the Northern Blues last week,” Jones said on Friday.
“With lesser groups it would be a bit of an unknown on the back of all that’s happened this week, but I know the way we’ll go about it on Sunday will be absolutely first-rate.
“The boys worked so hard last Sunday and were obviously gutted with the result.
“But the way they bounced back at training on Monday, and again on Wednesday night after they were told of the decision not to renew the licence... it’s hard to explain, but their ability to continue to bounce back and be ready for the next contest is just unbelievable.”
Jones says he can already detect a steely resolve among the playing group to ensure they go out with their heads held high over the club’s final eight games, which will culminate on Friday, August 22 against Collingwood.
“As a group they have come together and the feeling amongst themselves is to not only show locally what is going to be missed, but these boys are also on display over the next eight games for opportunities at new clubs next year,” Jones said.
“I’m a big believer that you get maximum effort out of guys regardless of milestone games and things like that, but something as big as this can really bond a group.
“I expect that team aspect to only get stronger in the run home.”
Sunday’s opponent, St Kilda-aligned Sandringham, sits ninth on the ladder with a 5-4-1 record and is coming off a 24-point loss to Williamstown last week.
“They are a very tall side and in their forward line with guys like Tom Lee and Aarryn Siposs, that will present a challenge to us, and they play their ground really well,” Jones said.
“It’s right on the bay... it’s windy and cold and the conditions are going to be ordinary, so even though they play a good brand of footy, we’ll be expecting it to be a contested game.
“We’ll be up for the challenge.”
The Gold will be focussed on replicating their four-quarter pressure of last week when they laid 116 tackles against the Blues.
Bendigo’s VFL team through the Diggers, Bombers and Gold has only won three times in 15 games at Sandringham - the last being in 2011 when the Bombers won by 26 points in round 11.
Sunday’s game at Sandringham starts at 2pm.