GISBORNE coach Kim Bailey is adamant her side has plenty of scope for improvement despite a solid qualifying final win on Sunday.
The Bulldogs, led by a standout game by gun defender Maddy Stewart, defeated Eaglehawk by 10 goals at the Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Gisborne led at every change, including by 12 goals at three quarter time, before the Hawks were able to peg back two goals in the final term.
The victory sets up a second semi-final encounter against Sandhurst next weekend, with the winner to progress directly to the 2018 grand final.
Bailey was glad to snare the win, but insisted the Bulldogs would need to be a whole lot better next week against the reigning premiers.
“It’s a big game next week, but you always want the opportunity to get through to a grand final the quickest possible way and get that rest,” she said.
“But it’s not going to be easy, Sandhurst is a quality team.
“We didn’t really play at our best, I was a little disappointed with our game.”
Bailey said the game was a bit of a learning curve, with the Bulldogs fielding their first choice line-up for the first time this season.
“There was a bit of getting used to each other again; Clare Vearing and Ella Bertachinni normally play with each other in VNL but probably haven’t played together for three weeks, so they were a bit rusty,” she said.
“We swung a few moves too with Rachel McKenzie in wing attack, which we haven’t done this season.
“We were having trouble getting some penetration into the pocket – it seemed to work.”
The game was McKenzie’s first for several weeks following an Achilles injury.
Eaglehawk lives to fight another day and will meet Kangaroo Flat in next weekend’s first semi-final.
The 10 goal margin was half of that in the Bulldogs’ round 12 victory over the Hawks, indicating the gap between the sides is closing.
Eaglehawk has beaten Kangaroo Flat in both previous games this season.
Kangaroo Flat fires first shot in finals
KANGAROO Flat has continued its 2018 season dominance against Golden Square with a convincing 20 goal win in Saturday’s elimination final at the QEO.
The Roos, boosted by a strong goal shooting performance from Annie Spear, defeated the Bulldogs 52-32, to set up a semi-final showdown against Eaglehawk.
It was the Roos’ third win this season against the Bulldogs from as many matches.
Golden Square started the smarter of the two teams and led by three goals at quarter time, before the Roos unleashed one of their best quarters for the season to score 17 goals to five and post a 24-15 lead.
A hard-working and slick Roos defence, led by Ingrid Hopkins and aided by Danielle Markwell and Jess Thomson, was able to lift its work-rate and largely shut down the Bulldogs after quarter time and help their team to a strong win.
Roos coach Jayden Cowling said he was pleased to see his side ‘push on’ after gaining the ascendancy in the second term.
“It gives us plenty of confidence for next week – it was do-or-die today for the girls, but with so much to play for,” he said.
“We want to keep going in finals and we know from here it’s anyone’s game in that top four.
“We are pumped for next week and can’t wait to see who we play.”
Cowling singled out Spear for praise after she was elevated from the A-reserve team following an ankle injury at training on Thursday night to Adrienne Murphy, and with Ruby Barkmeyer on restricted duty due to VNL commitments.
“She put in a really strong performance under the post to give us another option to look forward to in the next few weeks,” he said.
“Adrienne ended up coming on in the last quarter and didn’t miss a beat either, so hopefully we have a full line-up.”