THE Bendigo Gold were beaten by fellow VFL stand-alone team Frankston in their final practice match at Strathfieldsaye on Saturday.
The Gold were forced to play catch-up football after the Dolphins - who used four more players - made the stronger start on the way to a 16.7 (103) to 9.8 (62) win.
"We started poorly and just weren't switched on like we needed to be early," Gold coach Aussie Jones said.
"We can't afford to turn up to games without that ultimate attitude to compete and we just didn't have that early and Frankston got the jump on us.
"But we got better and in the back half of the second quarter and the third quarter we dominated them.
"They were rotating eight through the bench and we only had four, so we knew in that last quarter it was going to get away from us, but we'll take a lot of positives out of the game."
The Gold were only one goal down at three quarter-time, before the fresher Dolphins ran away with the game in the final term.
Tyrone Downie was a strong target up forward for the Gold, who also had good players in Steven Stroobants, Jarrod Bacon, Daniel Toman and Alik Magin.
The Gold - who lost Jack Sketcher to a hamstring injury on Saturday - have played three practice matches against VFL opponents in Frankston, Footscray and Collingwood for one win and two defeats.
With the practice matches finished, the Gold now shifts their attention to Friday night's round one game against Geelong at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
"We can't wait for Friday night. The boys have worked really hard over the pre-season... they're fit and ready," Jones said.
Friday night's game between the Gold and Cats starts at 7pm.