GISBORNE will be looking to build on its strong start to the BFNL season when it hosts South Bendigo in Saturday's round six contest.
The Bulldogs notched up their fourth straight win with an impressive 70-37 victory over Strathfieldsaye on the Storm's home court last Saturday, cementing their spot in third position, level on wins with second-placed Kangaroo Flat (both 4-1).
A win this weekend would put a nice gap between themselves and the Bloods, who have moved to fourth spot after last Saturday's 61-46 win over Castlemaine.
Bulldogs coach Tarryn Rymer could not have been happier with last week's 33-goal win and five netball wins across the board, achieved in the absence of players in most grades.
"We weren't meant to have a full side in A-grade with Rylee Connell still coming back from her ankle injury, but luckily she played a half in A-res and it felt pretty good, so she decided to play a half in A-grade as well," she said.
"That was unexpected. It was a good win - a nice team effort across the court.
"I was really impressed with Strath, their goalers (Ava Hamilton and Eliza Hynes) were really strong and it took us a while to be able to slow them down."
With Connell not originally intending to take the court and four of the Bulldogs' six A-squad goalers injured, gun recruit Jordan Cransberg spent the first half in goals before returning to her familiar midcourt role for quarters three and four.
"For someone who doesn't normally play goals, I was pretty impressed," Rymer said.
"As I was with Rylee and Claudia (Mawson) in the second half.
"It was pleasing to move to 4-1. That (round one) game against Sandhurst doesn't look good on our record, but we've well and truly moved on from that."
Rymer is anticipating a strong challenge against an always tough South Bendigo, which is looking to claim its first win over a top-three team since coach Jannelle Hobbs took over the coaching reins in 2018.
"There are a few new players in their side that will need to be watched," she said.
"They are always well-drilled and I'm sure Jannelle will have them well prepared.
"They will be hard to predict given they had players out against Castlemaine.
"I know they are looking for a top-three win, but I don't want that to be us.
"Regardless of the score, it always feels like a tough game against South."
The Bloods will be bolstered by the return of midcourter Ella Flavell for a game coach Hobbs is viewing as winnable after the Bloods got within eight goals of the Bulldogs last year and were much closer for most of the game.
"Heading down to Gisborne, it doesn't get much harder," she said.
"They have some great players, but you can only go in confident and back your own game.
"I've been saying it, we need to beat a side above us. Gisborne would be nice."
Jamie-Lee Clohesy, who missed last week's clash against Castlemaine is unavailable again this week, as is defensive midcourter Emily Cossar (work commitments).
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