KANGAROO Flat seized control of second spot on the BFNL A-grade ladder with a powerful performance in a win against Gisborne on Saturday.
The talent-stocked Roos advanced to 6-1 with an impressive 52-40 victory on their home court at Dower Park.
They led at every change, overcoming a spirited opening quarter challenge from the Bulldogs and a couple of mini-fightbacks in the middle two quarters.
After carrying a five-goal lead into the second quarter, Kangaroo Flat found itself just two goals up midway through the term.
But it was as close as the Bulldogs would get as the Roos reasserted their authority and pulled away to lead by eight goals at the main break.
They increased the margin by one goal in an even third quarter and rounded out the victory with a 13-10 final term.
The win was as crucial as it was effective, giving Kangaroo Flat (6-1) a one-game buffer over Gisborne (5-2) in the battle on the ladder behind top-placed Sandhurst.
Roos coach Jayden Cowling was thrilled to have gotten a 12-goal win over a team he rates as a genuine threat.
"We were obviously happy to get the win, but have lots of areas for improvement. It certainly wasn't our best game," he said.
"We didn't start most quarters off too well, but we had really good strong finishes to them.
"That will be a key for us, finding that consistency to start the game well and finish the game well.
"But credit to the girls, every time we were challenged they responded really well to that."
Another strong team performance was again led by wing defence Milly Wicks, who backed up a best on court display in a win over Castlemaine prior to last week's break, with another against the Bulldogs.
"She has had a great start to the season and had a really outstanding pre-season too," Cowling said.
"I think it's really showing, not only the amount of work she puts in, but every Thursday night (at training) she is giving her all.
"She is matching up against really strong A-reserve players at training and it's really showing on the court."
The sharp shooting combination of Lou Dupuy and Abbey Ryan also fared strongly in their battle against Gisborne strs Maddy Stewart and Polly Salter.
Gisborne's two-time Betty Thompson medallist Tiana Newman, who took the coaching reins in the absence of Tarryn Rymer, insisted the Bulldogs would take valuable lessons from the loss.
"I thought we started really strong, but the thing with Flat is we know they will always keep coming," she said.
"Their midcourt is arguably the best in the league at the moment and we found it really hard transitioning after we got a deflection down into our attack end, especially from centre pass as well.
"As Taz (Rymer) always says, we need to work on converting our turnovers, but Flat is always brilliant at making sure we don't.
"They are an amazing side and the benchmark as usual, so we have a bit to work on."
A positive from the loss was the performance of young wing defence Kirby Elliott, who has acquitted herself nicely in her first season with Gisborne after coming across from Riddell District league club Riddell.
"Ash (Ryan) and Chelsea (Sartori) are brilliant players, but I thought she held up with them," Newman said.
The Bulldogs were without star recruit and Melbourne Vixens training partner Jordan Cransberg and will be until the Super Netball team's 2022 commitments are over.
Next up for Gisborne is a home game against Golden Square, while Kangaroo Flat faces the Storm at Strathfieldsaye.
At Canterbury Park, Eaglehawk notched up its second win of the season with a stirring one-goal win over Kyneton.
The Hawks led at every change, but had to withstand a serious challenge in the final quarter from the Tigers, who hit the lead by one with five minutes remaining.
But the Hawks, who held a five-goal advantage at three quarter time, steadied and were able to claim an exciting and momentum-building win 44-43.
Joint coach Elley Lawton said despite 'a few scary moments', the Hawks had impressed with their ability to fight the game out to the end.
"It was a much-needed win and we were all really happy we got over the line," she said.
"We had Rani Madden, one of our defenders away, but we were able to pull through and get the job done.
"We applied huge defensive pressure and to get us over the line we needed that.
"Gracie Berriman's shooting was unreal and our defensive pressure from Charli Edlin in wing defence was great - she was able to stop a lot of balls, which was crucial."
Lawton, who played a full four quarters for the first time this season due to an ankle injury, said the win would give the Hawks plenty of confidence going forward, starting next weekend against Castlemaine.
At Maryborough, Sandhurst kept its unbeaten record intact with a hard-fought victory over the Magpies.
The Dragons' 67-45 victory was led by a brilliant performance in defence from young star Ruby Turner, who spent parts of the game at all of goal defence, wing defence and goal keeper.
At the opposite end of the court, Bec Smith continued her red-hot form with an impressive goal shooting performance.
It was another competitive effort from Maryborough, which has traditionally pushed Sandhurst in matches on the Magpies' home court in recent years.
At the QEO, South Bendigo bounced back from a loss before the break against Gisborne and defeated Strathfieldsaye by 24 goals.
The Bloods' 65-41 win was led by a standout performance by midcourter Chloe Gray and solid games from defender Steph Goode and goal shooter Chloe Langley.
South Bendigo unveiled its newest recruit, former Eaglehawk and White Hills goal shooter Ash Gilmore, who played a half.
At Wade Street, Golden Square pushed Castlemaine all the way, but the Magpies prevailed 44-31.
The Magpies (4-3) stayed within two points of fourth-placed South Bendigo (4-2-1) ahead of next weekend's clash against Eaglehawk.
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