THE top three scalp South Bendigo desperately craves has so far proved elusive, but coach Jannelle Hobbs continues to be happy with how the rest of the season is panning out for her team.
Another test was passed on Saturday when the Bloods shrugged off a plucky Maryborough at the QEO.
It was not without a major fight, with the Magpies holding a narrow quarter time lead before prevailing 59-43, largely due to a 19-10 second quarter.
Given the wet and wintry conditions and slippery court surface, Hobbs was rapt with a 16-goal win.
"They are a very good side, Maryborough; their goalers Jordan (Macilwain) and Kelly (Hare) are very strong, but I thought my girls played really well," she said.
"They stuck with us until about half time, but we got away after that, but it was never easy.
"Our goaling combination - the three of them - were outstanding again. They hardly missed a goal, which is always nice.
"In defence, Amy Morrissey had a great game in goal keeper and picked up a lot of ball.
"Emily Cossar was probably best on court, those conditions really suited her and she really turned it around for us in the third quarter. She pulled in seven intercepts at wing defence.
"She played a great game and is really adjusting to playing wing defence and has been brilliant the last couple of weeks.
"We're very fast into attack, but the weather changed up our game a bit; it was more a cautious and short game.
"But the girls adjusted well and got the win in the end, which is the main thing."
The fourth-placed Bloods moved to 5-2-1 ahead of a massive test this Saturday against second-placed Kangaroo Flat, which moved to 7-1 following a 74-23 win over Strathfieldsaye.
READ MORE: BFNL's top five widen the gap
It has put them well on track to contesting finals for only the second time in 20 seasons.
That figure would undoubtedly have been three had last year's final series gone ahead instead of being cancelled due to COVID-19.
With one game remaining in the first half of the home and away season, the top five, led by top-placed Sandhurst (8-0), with Gisborne (6-2) third and Castlemaine (5-3) fifth, is starting to look settled.
"It's looking close if hopefully we can knock off one of these higher sides," Hobbs said.
"Obviously the aim is to get the double chance, but we have some very tough opposition.
"But the confidence is building and having (goal shooter) Ash Gilmore in there is an absolute bonus. She has slotted in beautifully.
"She will only get better and better as we go along."
The news continues to get brighter at Harry Trott Oval, with star defender Alicia McGlashan having the plaster removed from her broken wrist and itching to get back into training.
Hobbs is cautiously optimistic about having the former six-time Kangaroo Flat A-grade premiership defender back for most of the second half of the season.
"Getting her experience and size back in defence will be a real boost," she said.
"Unfortunately this round she won't get a crack at her old club, but next round she should be ready to go.
"We're looking forward to the challenge, Kangaroo Flat is undoubtedly one of the best teams going around, so it's exciting to challenge ourselves against the best.
"We'll keep working hard and see how we go."
Hobbs reserved plenty of praise for Maryborough - currently seventh on the ladder with two wins and six losses ahead of this week's home match against Kyneton (2-5-1) - and expected them to trouble teams at both ends of the ladder as the season progressed.
"They started off on fire; we were actually a bit sloppy to begin with. I had to make a few changes at quarter time," she said.
"They are really strong, but we knew that from the score the week before against Sandhurst.
"They'll definitely make things tough and could definitely cause some upsets."
Arguably the Magpies' best performer on Saturday was wing defence Amanda Cox, who went head-to-head with star Bloods midcourters Chloe Gray and Keiarah Brooks.
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