IT'S hard to believe that since their rousing premiership showdown in 2019, Sandhurst and Kangaroo Flat have played each other only once.
Not only has it been a huge disappointment for BFNL netball followers, but more so for the Dragons and Roos players and coaches themselves, who thrive on the top-notch competition.
But any regrets will be cast aside when the league's powerhouses finally do battle again at the QEO on Saturday.
It will be their first clash since early last season, when the Roos turned a four-goal three-quarter time deficit into a five-goal win.
And an encounter that left many thinking 'what if' had the two teams met a second and likely third time later in the year.
With both sides in devastating form at 3-0, Saturday's clash will deliver one of them outright top spot on the ladder and perhaps an early mental edge over the other.
READ MORE: Tigers hope to build off first 2022 win
After a 29-goal win against South Bendigo last Saturday, Sandhurst's triple-premiership coach Tamara Gilchrist said she's happy with her side was at going into a much-anticipated showdown with the Roos.
"We are hitting some good form going into it, but we are certainly not peaking yet, so it will be interesting to see what happens," she said.
"I haven't seen them play yet, but obviously (goal shooting recruit) Lou Dupuy has slotted in well there.
"I know most of their players across the court individually and I know that they are all very skilled.
"It will come down to just who brings it on the day. I'm expecting a great contest."
The Dragons will regain star defender Imogen Sexton and classy goal attack Kelsey Meade after they missed last week's imposing victory over the Bloods.
In their absence, Holly Lockhart, Darcy Williams and Isi Shoebridge stepped up to play influential roles and will no doubt be ready to go again should the situation warrant.
For Gilchrist, the Roos' tallies of 66, 88 and 80 goals in the first three weeks of the season have not gone unnoticed.
"Unless you've got a tall, athletic defensive end, they are just going to keep feeding Lou Dupuy all day and the game will get away from you pretty quickly," she said.
"It will come down to what we can do to counteract that with Immy (Sexton) and Ruby Turner in that circle.
"Provided COVID behaves itself, we expect to be full strength. But that's another plus, I'm loving our depth. Even the girls who have filled in have stepped up and are playing well."
Kangaroo Flat's victory last week against Eaglehawk was the Roos' second straight by more than 50 goals and third in as many matches by more than 38.
Coach Jayden Cowling, who missed his side's last two matches while representing Victoria at the men's and mixed national championships, could not think of a better match to be back on deck for than a clash against the three-time premiers.
"Over a number of years we were just so close and then last year we could finally get the four points, which was a great boost for us," he said.
"I guess this year, they've had a couple of changes and we've got a couple of changes in our line-up too.
"I think everyone is excited about this game. We are looking forward to the challenge and I know Sandhurst is looking forward to it as well."
A Roos team that ended last year's home and away season undefeated with 10 wins and a draw has this year been bolstered by the inclusion of goal shooter Lou Dupuy.
Her recruitment has taken on extra significance following the likely loss of goal shooter Annie Spear for the remainder of the season.
Cowling said Spear, who injured her ankle during a pre-season practice match, has been referred to a surgeon.
"It's very unfortunate, her ankle just wasn't getting better, so she had an MRI last week and got the results back and it wasn't what she was hoping for," he said.
"She will still be involved as much as she can and will help me on the sidelines.
"Fortunately, Lou has slotted in perfectly and is a great option for us having shot a massive percentage of our goals.
"It will be great seeing how she goes against a talented Sandhurst defence."
The Roos were further strengthened last week against Eaglehawk by the return of defender Laura McDonald for her first game this season.
In other games, Eaglehawk and Golden Square clash at Canterbury Park with both the Hawks and Bulldogs targeting their first win of the season.
The Hawks were well beaten last week by Kangaroo Flat, while the Bulldogs lost by 13 to Maryborough.
Fresh from a solid win over fellow finals rival Castlemaine, Gisborne (2-1) makes the trip to Maryborough for a showdown against the 1-2 Magpies.
Castlemaine suffered its first loss since returning to A-grade against Gisborne, but gets the chance to atone against Strathfieldsaye.
At Kyneton, the Tigers host South Bendigo.
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