IT MIGHT only be round seven, but the importance of Saturday's clash against reigning premiers Newbridge is not lost on Bridgewater coach Meg Allen.
The first-year Mean Machine coach has been encouraged by her side's 5-1 start to the LVFNL season, but views Saturday's home game as crucial to their season hopes.
"It's a huge game, obviously they are the reigning premiers, but I suppose in that (current) top four, everyone is fighting for a top three position and a double chance come finals time," Allen said.
"It would be really nice to get a win on the board and prove that we are up there.
"Particularly after there was only a one goal difference between Pyramid Hill and Mitiamo .... it's obviously super close at the top of the ladder."
The Mean Machine enter the game on a three-game winning streak, including back-to-back wins over finals contenders Maiden Gully YCW and Calivil United.
Allen conceded her side had been a little scrappy in defeating the Demons, in a match played in trying conditions at Calivil.
"But give credit to Calivil, they are still a force to be reckoned with and played really great defence," she said.
"We were lucky to come away with the win, but it gave us a few things to work on during the week off."
A new-look Bridgewater continues to benefit from strong performances in the midcourt from Sandhurst recruit Stacey Rothacker and goaler Olivia Treloar, who opposition coach Kristy Shay nominated as a player whose influence the Maroons would need to curtail.
While Newbridge might have started the season as reigning premiers, the first-year Maroons coach said her side was far from the measuring stick at this point of the season, despite a solid 4-1 record.
The Maroons have struggled to field a consistent line-up, with goal shooter Jane Reid missing two games and goal keeper Amy Jackman absent for three.
The premiership pair, along with a full complement of starters, will be available for this game.
Shay admitted to keeping close tabs on Bridgewater's form, with the Mean Machine having regularly played the Maroons' opponent from the previous week.
"We expect with their new recruits they will be pretty handy because they are always strong," she said.
"They might have a bit more match fitness than us, that's my only concern."
In a bid to counter the effects of an absence of recent match-play, courtesy of a bye followed by another week off for inter-league commitments, a practice match against Golden Square was organised last week, which Shay said a was a solid hit-out.
In other LVFNL games, Marong hosts Calivil United, Bears Lagoon-Serpentine meets Maiden Gully YCW and Pyramid Hill clashes with Inglewood.