Gisborne primed for clash against BFNL ladder leaders Sandhurst

BIG TEST: Gisborne's Maddy Stewart is confident of a good showing against BFNL ladder leaders Sandhurst at Gardiner Reserve tomorrow.

BIG TEST: Gisborne's Maddy Stewart is confident of a good showing against BFNL ladder leaders Sandhurst at Gardiner Reserve tomorrow.

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A TOP-THREE clash against a rampaging Sandhurst is expected to hold no fears for an expectant Gisborne.

The Bulldogs enter the round nine clash with wins in four of their last five matches, including three in a row.

They have lost just twice this season, by a combined seven goals against Kangaroo Flat in round two and Golden Square (round five).

This battle at Gardiner Reserve looms as their biggest test yet, with the Dragons firming as premiership favourites following a 37 goal triumph over reigning premiers Kangaroo Flat.

With their own season gaining momentum, Bulldogs skipper Maddy Stewart believed the clash would be the ultimate test of the side's premiership credentials.

"Obviously Sandhurst have set the standard all year and obviously after a massive win last week they are looking even stronger," she said.

"We're ready and happy how we've been playing the last few weeks and if we have a consistent game I think we are shot at winning."

The Bulldogs, under new coach Guy Keane, have been working diligently at developing their combinations, in a bid to challenge for their first A-grade flag since 2013.

Stewart said Ella Bertachinni and Rachel McKenzie in goals and the midcourt duo of Tarryn Rymer and Tiana Newman were two such pairings currently getting the job done for Gisborne.

Ella Bertachinni

Ella Bertachinni

The Bulldogs have greater depth than in previous seasons with 10 players capable of confidently rotating through through the line-up.

Sandhurst has continued to show it has no weak links, with Meg Williams and Brooke Bolton dominating in the midcourt and players at both ends of the court in deft touch.

Stewart nominated joint-coach Heather Oliver as the Dragons player whose influence would need to be reined in.

"We heard last week she had an absolute blinder and she is such a unique player," she said.

"But then you've got Brooke and Meg in the midcourt who will be really hard to stop, and their goalers are always good.

"But Ollie's one (player) we'll have to have a real good look at."

A win against the Dragons would give the Bulldogs a 2-2 split against the four other top five teams.

In other games, Maryborough is in need of a win against Eaglehawk to maintain contact with the top five, Kangaroo Flat is looking to rebound against South Bendigo, Golden Square hosts Castlemaine, with Strathfieldsaye clashes with Kyneton.

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