A HEAVYWEIGHT battle looms large for Newbridge as it prepares to tackle the might of reigning premier Bridgewater at Riverside Oval on Saturday.
The Maroons, currently third with a 4-1 record, enter the round seven clash in winning form after surviving a tough two goal win against Maiden Gully YCW before the inter-league break, and are eager to test themselves against the competition benchmark.
Maroons coach Jane Reid hinted at an intriguing battle after three Maroons players and three Mean Machine players were team-mates in last week's LVFNL inter-league match against Horsham District.
"I am really proud of the (Newbridge) girls so far this season - I have been testing different combinations and things and now we have Meg Jennings back which is a huge in for us," Reid said.
"I think we are only going to get stronger as the season goes longer and we will secure our positions and see which match-ups work best.
"I feel if we can keep steady through this middle part of the season we can have a strong end."
While the Maroons were well represented at inter-league level by their coach, Alyssa Cole and Leah Dixon, Reid expressed delight with the strong roles performed by defender Tracey O'Donnell and midcourter Rachel Pettifer through the opening two months.
"Rach is one of those players you can just always rely on and I have been really impressed with her start to the season," she said.
"I think it can be tough coach-playing and I think she is just enjoying playing in A-grade and coaching B-grade.
"I have seen a slight change in her, I think she looks at the game and her role in the team a bit differently after being the (A-grade) coach."
The Mean Machine will be without premiership goal attack Leah Sartori as they attempt to extend their unbeaten start to the season into a seventh game.
Joint coach Shellie Davies said her side was looking forward to the challenge posed by one of the competition's top teams.
"I think it will be a great indication of our strengths and what we need to work on," she said.
"We bounced back from the Bears Lagoon-Serpentine game really well, which wasn't a great game for us.
"The Marong win (35 goals) was a really good one - we moved the ball really well and I think having the week off for inter-league has enabled most of the girls to get a good rest. Getting back into it is exciting."
The loss of a key player such as Sartori is not a new occurrence for Bridgewater, with Davies indicating her side had been at full-strength just twice in six games this season.
The first-year Mean Machine coach had praise for shooter Carly Scholes, who has stepped from B-grade to become a force in the goal circle, and was rewarded with an inter-league berth last weekend.
"She is having a great season, it's probably been a long time coming stepping up," Davies said.
"She has got such a great (shooting) action."
In other games, Marong and Bears Lagoon Serpentine do battle at Malone Park, Inglewood hosts Mitiamo, and Pyramid Hills clashes with Maiden Gully YCW.
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