MOMENTUM, the chance to gain a mental edge on their rivals, and an all-important rest in the first week of finals.
There's certainly plenty of stake when Sandhurst and Gisborne meet in a top of the ladder clash at the QEO on Saturday.
As has been the case often in the past two seasons, a clash between the Dragons and Bulldogs means much more than a win for either side.
That was most definitely the case when the rivals met in last season's premiership decider, won in overtime by the Dragons.
Sandhurst and Gisborne also met in last season's second semi-final, with the Bulldogs coming out on top to be the first team to advance to the grand final.
With both teams entering the contest level on 12 wins, two losses - and with both projected to win their final round encounters - the clash will determine a minor round premier.
The Bulldogs claimed the honours in their earlier season encounter 53-38 at Gardiner Reserve, but will be looking to rebound after a six goal loss to Eaglehawk, their second to the Hawks this season.
Sandhurst skipper Meg Williams expected the Bulldogs to bounce back strongly from the defeat.
"It put us back on top, which is lucky for us, but in the end we are just focusing on ourselves at the moment," she said.
"We won't worry about ladder positioning until we are happy with our own game and heading into finals.
"The last game we just let them take control early and it's really hard to beat Gisborne in Gisborne.
"They got on top of us way too early and it was difficult getting back."
Referencing Eaglehawk's rousing victory over Gisborne, Williams, who played in a Victorian Netball League division one premiership win for North East Blaze on Wednesday night, said the scene was set for a thrilling and wide-open final series.
"It just goes to show that this A-grade competition is down to match-ups, it could be anyone's game on any given day," she said.
"We know we played poorly against them last time - we've worked hard in the meantime to ensure we are ready this time, for what is a first taste of finals."
The Bulldogs clash will be a special one for Williams, who will be playing game number 100 for Sandhurst.
Her two-time premiership team-mate Rebecca Smith will be playing her 50th.
Gisborne star Maddy Stewart said her side would welcome the chance to redeem themselves after their loss to the Hawks.
"It's a massive game, we need to play a hell of a lot better than we did (against Eaglehawk)," she said.
"It really harmed our chances for top spot with Sandhurst having a superior percentage, but hopefully we can rectify it with a win. But if we have to play the first week of finals that's fine."
"We lacked quite a bit of drive in attack (last week) and their defence really smothered us.
"That put a lot of doubts in our minds and we didn't play anywhere as well as we had in previous weeks."
Meanwhile, Strathfieldsaye will get another gauge of its second-half of the season improvement against South Bendigo at Harry Trott Oval.
Only nine goals separated the teams when they met earlier in the season, with both having shown plenty of growth and development as the season has progressed.
The Storm finished just three goals shy of Kangaroo Flat in their most recent match and come into the game fresh from a bye.
In other games, Maryborough hosts Kangaroo Flat, while Eaglehawk clashes with Kyneton at Canterbury Park.
Wins to the Roos and Hawks set up a fascinating round 18 encounter between the two for third spot and the double chance.
A RECAP OF LAST WEEKEND:
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