Golden Square's Gabe Richards takes aim at Kangaroo Flat and back-to-back BFNL flags

Gabe Richards is ready and rarin' to go against Kangaroo Flat in Saturday's BFNL grand final. Picture: DARREN HOWE

Gabe Richards is ready and rarin' to go against Kangaroo Flat in Saturday's BFNL grand final. Picture: DARREN HOWE

SHE'S sunk the hopes of a more than a few Women's National Basketball League (WNBL) teams with Bendigo Spirit.

Now Gabe Richards is hoping to do the same against Kangaroo Flat in Saturday's BFNL A-grade netball grand final at the QEO.

The star Golden Square goal shooter shapes as a key to the Bulldogs' hopes of back-to-back premierships, under coach Lia Marrone.

It's been a mixed season for Richards, also a two-time championship player with the Spirit.

A sight opposition teams dread: Gabe Richards shoots for goal against Giolden Square.

A sight opposition teams dread: Gabe Richards shoots for goal against Giolden Square.

She missed the Bulldogs' opening two matches with a foot injury, a carry over from the basketball season.

They included an opening round loss to their grand final opponent 47-43.

By mid-July she was again out of the line-up after undergoing plantar fascia surgery.

She remained sidelined until the Bulldogs' round 16 game against Maryborough and has played a major role in the Bulldogs qualifying for a third straight grand final appearance.

Even for a player with as imposing a reputation in BFNL netball circles as Richards, there's an aura of mystery surrounding her inclusion in the team for both player and the opposition.

"It's a little bit of an unknown for me because I haven't played in either of the games against Kangaroo Flat this year," she said.

"I think we've been competitive in both of those games, so hopefully I can just bolster us a little bit more and we can get across the line."

There's a perception that Golden Square is peaking at the right time.

It's a feeling share by the Bulldogs players.

"We were really happy with how we played last week - having dropped the (qualifying final) to Sandhurst was disappointing for us," she said.

"There was a lot we could work on and we went away and did that and came back and played really well.

"If we can replicate that this week we will be in with a very good shot at back-to-back flags."

Richards' pairing in the goal circle with young star Abbey Ryan presents as one of the most lethal in country netball.

She believed the pair complemented each other well.

"Abbey's an incredible young talent - we work together well," Richards said.

Abbey Ryan and Gabe Richards form a potent attack for Golden Square.

Abbey Ryan and Gabe Richards form a potent attack for Golden Square.

"She works well off me and has a lot of range,which helps if they won't to double back on me - she's not afraid to pump the shots from outside.

"Obviously she plays very well with her sister Ash and I have a lot of confidence in them bringing the ball down."

Though not all he praise was reserved for teammates, with Richards glowing in her recognition of rival goal shooter Ruby Barkmeyer and her partner in the Roos attack Jamie-Lee Clohesy.

" I loved playing Ruby in the association championships team, she's an incredible talent annd has a very bright future," she said.

Young Kangaroo Flat star Ruby Barkmeyer.

Young Kangaroo Flat star Ruby Barkmeyer.

"She's just so poised and relaxed for such a youngster.

"It's really important you don’t rush and get flustered by the defence, but at that inter-league level in Melbourne we were thrown all these different challenges, but she just handles it all with the bat of an eye-lid."

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