SANDHURST coach Brett Fitzpatrick said the result of Saturday’s clash between the Dragons and Gisborne will have little bearing on the finals.
As it stands, Gisborne and Sandhurst are more than likely to meet in the qualifying final in a month’s time.
“I don’t have any fear of the outcomes that could happen pre-finals,’’ Fitzpatrick said.
“You just don’t know what your list is going to look like next time you play or what your opponents list is going to look like next time you play.
“It would have more of an impact if it meant a definite change in positions on the ladder.
“If we were to come out and defeat Gisborne like we did earlier this season I would be more than happy, but the reality is that’s unlikely to happen.”
The Dragons belted Gisborne by 73 points in round seven, but Gisborne has improved considerably since then.
Fitzpatrick admitted Sandhurst was probably not playing to the same level it was in the first half of the season.
“In the first seven weeks of the season our run and carry of the ball was improving all the time,’’ Fitzpatrick said.
“We then had a couple of physical games against Golden Square and Eaglehawk. It’s hard to keep that momentum going and since then we’ve probably dragged ourselves back into that physical game instead of opening things up again.
“We’ve been playing a tight line instead of using the whole ground like we were earlier on. That exposes you to rebound footy and that’s probably why Kangaroo Flat and Maryborough have kicked some big scores against us.”
The Dragons have included Bendigo Pioneers-listed trio James Coghlan, Tom Cole and Lachlan Tardrew for Saturday’s game.
“With the Pioneers not playing they were available to play for us, so we thought we may as well test them against quality opposition,’’ Fitzpatrick said.
“They will be available for selection in the finals, so this is the perfect game for us to get a guide on where they at.
“History shows that players in the elite under-18 competition usually stand up well at this level.”
Gisborne welcomes back experienced duo Ollie Messaoudi and Anthony Belcher.
“It will be a great challenge for us,’’ Gisborne coach Rod Sharp said.
“We’re playing some really good footy and we’re really starting to understand the style of footy we need to play.
“This is going to give us a good measure of where we’re at close to the finals.
“Across the board it’s a great opportunity for our club.
"Sandhurst is strong in football and netball, so our whole club is looking forward to a great day.