Spirit ready to hunt top of ladder Rangers

HIGH-scoring shoot-out or defensive slog?

ATTACKING: Bendigo Spirit point guard Kerryn Harrington. The Spirit take on the WNBL's top side Dandenong at the Bendigo Stadium from 3pm on Sunday. Dandenong hasn't won in Bendigo since 2010. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

ATTACKING: Bendigo Spirit point guard Kerryn Harrington. The Spirit take on the WNBL's top side Dandenong at the Bendigo Stadium from 3pm on Sunday. Dandenong hasn't won in Bendigo since 2010. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Expect either at the Bendigo Stadium on Sunday based on the first two encounters this season between the Bendigo Bank Spirit and Dandenong Rangers.

The two sides will meet for the third time this WNBL campaign in what’s a top-of-the-ladder clash that for the Spirit signals the start of their second half of the season.

The Rangers (7-3) sit in top spot on the ladder, while the Spirit (8-4) occupy second position.

Two of the three losses the Rangers have suffered so far have been at the hands of the Spirit – a long-time nemesis of Dandenong.

Bendigo holds an overall 24-7 head-to-head advantage over the Rangers, and has won its past 10 games against Dandenong at the Bendigo Stadium.

Not since October 15, 2010, when they won 76-74 have the Rangers travelled back down the Calder with a win over Bendigo.

Their first two match-ups this season couldn’t have been more contrasting.

They combined for just 113 points on October 15 when Bendigo held the Rangers to a measly tally of 44 in a 59-44 victory at home.

A fortnight later the points flowed much easier for both teams in what was a 94-85 victory for the Spirit on a Friday night at Dandenong.

“They are going to be coming off a game on Saturday night against Sydney, so in terms of being set up for us this weekend, it is,” Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said.

“We’ll be fresh on Sunday, I will be going down to watch Dandenong on Saturday night, so I’ll get to see anything they may do differently.

“It has been a while since they have won up here, but we’re also wary that every time they play up here the odds say they are getting closer to a win.

“So we’ve got to be mindful of making sure we do all that blue collar work that we’re really good at.”

The Spirit are coming off a 69-51 victory over the Adelaide Lightning last Sunday in what had been their fourth game in nine days.

Sunday’s game at the Bendigo Stadium tips off at 3pm.

• Bendigo’s run of home wins against Dandenong:

Dec 17, 2011 – 92 def 63.

Jan 13, 2012 – 84 def 77.

Oct 27, 2012 – 82 def 80.

Dec 8, 2012 – 79 def 72.

Feb 24, 2013 – 78 def 71 (second semi-final).

Dec 20, 2013 – 79 def 72.

Feb 23, 2014 – 71 def 62 (second semi-final).

Oct 31, 2014 – 97 def 75.

Nov 22, 2015 – 63 def 49.

Oct 15, 2016 – 59 def 44.

• This weekend’s WNBL matches:

Canberra v Melbourne, Perth v Townsville (Friday night), Adelaide v Townsville, Dandenong v Sydney, Melbourne v Sydney, Bendigo v Dandenong.

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