WHILE Castlemaine has not got the desired results on court in the last two weeks, the Magpies joint coaches are supremely confident their team is heading in the right direction.
A mixed but overwhelmingly encouraging first six rounds for the Magpies has included three apiece wins and losses.
The only real drawback has been back-to-back losses to premiership contender Kangaroo Flat and likely finalists South Bendigo.
Any disappointment can be easily soothed when factoring in the great strides Castlemaine has made in its netball program.
The Magpies are contesting A-grade for the first time since 2017 - a season in which they won only one game.
They went winless in both 2015 and 2016 and won only twice in 2014, meaning this year's tally of wins has already matched that of the Magpies' last four seasons at A-grade level.
Coaches Fiona Fowler and Gary Cooke have assembled an eclectic array of experienced and youthful emerging talent for the club's return to the top grade of BFNL netball.
They acknowledge the challenge now is to get that talent together on the same court and working as a unit.
"You can see it in the likes of Sandhurst, Gisborne and Kangaroo Flat, who have been together for years, they know where each other and they have the systems," said Fowler following last Saturday's 57-41 loss to the Roos at Camp Reserve.
"It's all about the consistency they have had over the years.
"You can see with us, we've got it in patches, but the missed pass or miscommunication shows up. Hopefully, we can link some of that up.
"It's disappointing in parts, but exciting in others."
With exciting young midcourter Cailtlin Richardson sidelined with a back injury, Fowler yet to return to the court after giving birth to her and husband Jack's second child and Kelsie Rainbow missing against the Roos, the Magpies are still yet to field a full side, let alone train together as a group.
Both coaches could not help but be impressed by Kangaroo Flat, referring to coach Jayden Cowling's team as a quality side'.
"When we adjusted line-ups and got runs on, they adjusted in response and brought it (the momentum) back their way," Cooke said.
"They are just so well-drilled."
Fowler praised Tara Ford and Bridie Semmens for toiling hard in defence against a slick Roos attack, while - as to be expected - Melbourne Vixens training partner Gabby Coffey had a strong impact in her 'surprise' appearance.
"She really enjoyed it," Fowler said.
"I hope so," she added when asked about the possibility of another appearance this season in black and white by the 21-year-old former Northern Territory representative.
With only Sandhurst and Eaglehawk playing a standalone contest in BFNL netball this weekend, the Magpies will look to regain some momentum in clashes against bottom pair Golden Square and Eaglehawk following the break, ahead of round nine showdown with powerhouse Sandhurst on June 11.
Fowler and Cooke see plenty of light ahead as the team continues to gel and once it hits full strength.
"We are still on track to make finals - we get there and we'll have our stuff sorted," Fowler said.
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